Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10, 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Source: ARC from publisher - thank you!
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.Gosh, where do I begin with this review?! Let me start by saying I am a huge Rainbow Rowell fan. I read both Eleanor and Park, as well as Attachments, last year. Both novels completely blew me away. This woman's craft is something I can only aspire to have one day. Her ability to write characters, set scenes, and engage the reader into a world that should just be ordinary, yet feels completely personal, is a true talent.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? [goodreads]
Cath and Wren are twin sisters, who share a love for the Simon Snow fandom (which mirrors very closely to Harry Potter and it's what I pictured a lot as I read the story). They grew up with their dad, after their mother abruptly left and decided she didn't want to be a mother anymore. This departure left the girls and their dad in a total mess. Slowly, they picked up the pieces and glued themselves back together - as best they could. The girls took to writing fanfiction for Simon Snow, which quickly sparked an audience of it's own. Before they knew it, fans were becoming fans of their fan-fiction.
The story begins as Cath and Wren go to college together, yet Wren wants a separate identity from her twin sister, so she opts to live in a different dorm. This already sets the scene for Cath's anxiety to go into over drive. She's not only starting over somewhere new, but she's having to do it without her twin sister sharing a bed next to her's. Cath's new roommate introduces a boy into Cath's world that will forever change it.
Meet Levi. Oh Levi, Levi, Levi.
If there ever was a boy written so perfectly, yet full of so many flaws, this would be THE BOY. He captured my heart right away and I just knew he would either break it, or cause it to explode. Both of which definitely occurred -- but no spoilers on THAT.
As the story progresses Cath is cast into a very typical world of college life, yet she feels not a part of it at all. While she stays secluded in her dorm room, writing Simon Snow fanfic, her sister Wren is out and about living up the college social life. There are moments when the girls butt heads because they are at such contrasts, and even remove themselves from the others life in order to breathe. But truthfully, all it's doing is suffocating them more.
The ever-present issue of their mother abandoning them surfaces time and time again. You start to see the damage it's caused to both girls, and how they are both reacting, both differently, in regards to it. This story is very strong in its establishment of family, and how differently it can be conceived. There may be cracks all over, but it is those cracks that give it definition, and makes that family whole.
I loved the heavy dose of Simon Snow littered through out. The way Rainbow Rowell portrays the concept of fan-fiction was so interesting for me to read about. It wound its way through the story and kept both Cath and Wren, their father, and Levi all intertwined.
I found myself, often, rereading scenes (Levi!!!) because I wasn't quite ready to move on in the story. I wanted to savor that passage just a bit more, only to be taken back by yet another amazing moment pages later. I firmly believe fans of Rainbow Rowell will devour this book, as well. It's a coming of age story that will break your heart, over and over, yet leave you feeling so completely full. If this is your first novel to read by Rainbow Rowell, then be prepared for some serious fangirlness.