Monday, April 7, 2014
Info: St. Martin's Press, copyright 2013, 445 pages
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Sometimes it's hard to write your own story.
Cath 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.
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?
Rainbow Rowell has a way with words. I mentioned this before in my Eleanor & Park review. She's a poet really, weaving together descriptions and sentences that sometimes leave you speechless. She is also excellent at dialogue. In many ways it reminds me of John Green. It's smart. Fastpaced. Witty. And leaves me envious of the "Gilmore Girls-esque" quips that were both intelligent and entertaining.
Then there are her characters. I loved Cath and her insecurities. I maybe might have seen just a smidgen of myself in the nerdy, wallflower of a college student. Levi. Sigh. Levi is spectacular. From the moment Cath walked into her dorm room and encountered Levi, I was smitten. He's smart, awkward, and genuinely kind. Reagan might be a little rough-and-tumble, but her tough love saves Cath.
And that's the true awesome of the story. The characters save each other. Sometimes subtly, sometimes outright, but each, in their own way, find a way to help the other. As coming of age stories go, there isn't anything epic in Fangirl. It's really just the story of a girl who finds out she is capable of so much more than she ever dreamed, and that change doesn't always have to be as terrifying as we allow ourselves to believe.
The Not So Awesome
Nothing really to report. Wren drove me crazy. She made me grateful that I don't have a twin, and especially a twin sister. While she eventually comes around, there were moments I wanted to take her by the shoulders and scream at her until I was blue in the face. Something tells me that's exactly what Rowell intended...and maybe how our parents felt about us growing up :)
I might be fangirl-ing a little over Ms. Rowell's newest novel. She's a spectacular writer And if you haven't picked up one of her books yet, you really should get on that as soon as possible.