Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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?"
Review: You know that feeling when you're hungry, but can't decide what to eat? You try a few crackers, a raspberry, maybe some cashews, and, while they're perfectly legitimate foods, they just don't quite hit your sweet spot, so you keep searching until you randomly take a half-interested bite of cantaloupe and BAM. Suddenly it's like the heavens have parted, the birds are singing, and all is right in the world. You sit with your fork and your cantaloupe and are completely and utterly satisfied.
That was this book for me. I didn't know I wanted a coming-of-age book. I don't usually gravitate towards contemporary YA fiction. I've never read anything by Rainbow Rowell before. But, nevertheless, this was my cantaloupe.
Cath Avery was a delight to read about. She's bookish, she's nerdy, she doesn't require very many friends to be happy, she has worries, deadlines, hopes, struggles, problems, triumphs and failures. Her life is mostly fine, but not perfect, as is the case for most of us. She was extremely relatable for me, personally, as I share many of her characteristics and hobbies. And I loved watching her grow and learn throughout her first year of college, and felt like I was becoming a little wiser throughout the book along with her.
One of the items on my list of Top Ten Things on my Reading Wishlist was for YA books to feature more friendship, less romance. There is a romance present in this book, yes, but it's not the forefront of the story. This book wonderfully showcases several relationships in Cath's life: her relationship with her father, her twin sister, her mother, her roommate, her classmates, her professors, and her friends. Each relationship was genuine and unique and uniquely important. I loved watching each relationship develop and change.
The romance itself was slow, subtle, warm, and sweet. Levi and Cath are not extraordinary looking, but they are still extraordinary together. They might find the other person attractive, but their relationship is grounded and healthy and is based on forgiveness and mutual respect. They have identities outside of each other, and support one another in their individual goals and dreams. Three cheers for Cath and Levi.
My favorite relationship to read about, however, was the relationship between Cath and her roommate, Reagan. They occasionally baffle each other, but still root for and support each other. Their interactions were honest and funny, and I found myself smiling throughout their conversations.
The fictional Simon Snow books were obviously written to parallel the hugely popular Harry Potter books. As a Harry Potter fan, I loved the parallels, and was impressed with Rowell's ability to insert a whole new fictional world inside of another fictional story. Although I love that fandoms exist for Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, and many other series, I've never really participated in them. For me, the books are enough. When I miss those worlds, I re-read the books themselves rather than read fanfiction. So the fanfic world was new to me in this story, and not something I thought I would totally enjoy. But, as everything else did in this book, it won me over. It was exciting and charming and I wish the Simon Snow books really did exist so that I could read them.
I have one small complaint: I wish it was 5 pages longer. I just thought it needed a tiny bit more at the end. I should also warn those who are sensitive to language: this book, while not overflowing with it, does have some moments of really strong language. I wouldn't recommend it to younger teens. I, myself, thought it was grand, though.
This book succeeds in every way. It left me feeling charmed, content, and full. Although I checked this one out from the library, I think I'm going to buy this one since I'm already looking forward to a re-read.