Cath would rather spend her time in her head writing Simon Snow fanfiction than deal with her father’s mental health, her twin sister’s sudden demand for independence, her absentee mother, or freshman year of college. And as much as she believes she can hole up in her room for eight months with some protein bars and her laptop, she soon finds herself dealing with all of the above, plus an intimidating roommate and said roommate’s omnipresent boyfriend(?) with the 100-watt perma-smile.
I loved every nerdy, funny, heart-squeezing page of Rainbow Rowell’s new-adult novel Fangirl. The heroine, Cath, is a shy, anxiety-fueled freshman who’s not really sure how she fits into this new world of college and is afraid to get out of her own way enough to figure it out. Afraid that she’ll have to leave too much behind. I found her extremely relatable (maybe more than I care to admit) and I cheered her on as she broke out of her shell, one shard at a time while staying true to herself. That was huge for me, to have a heroine who doesn’t have to compromise herself in order to grow.
This book had my emotions ping-ponging back and forth between laughing out loud and experiencing outbursts of “Boys suck!” but mostly laughing (this book made me a loud reader, apparently). The pop-culture references strewn throughout always made me smile. Fangirl was definitely a feast for my nerdiness.
Rowell impressed me with the completeness of Cath’s world regarding Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-esque series of books and movies. Cath’s world is one I am quite familiar with. As an avid fan of the Harry Potter books who went to the midnight releases, saw all the movies multiple times and has more merchandise than I know what to do with, I get the zeal Cath feels for Simon Snow and the desire to not have to let that world go. Rowell captures this culture with her signature wit and a great deal of creativity. In Fangirl, we get to read not only Cath’s narration, but her writerly voice through her fanfiction, as well as excerpts from the “real” Simon Snow books (complete with copyright dates!) The amount of fun Rowell had writing this book comes across loud and clear and makes reading it a pleasure. Fangirl is very much an homage to our generation of Potterheads, many of whom may be experiencing that same struggle with entering “adulthood.”
But this isn’t just a lighthearted book about a girl who writes fanfiction. Between the laughs, or perhaps underneath them, Cath has to deal with some very tough family issues in addition to her own anxieties. Cath’s unraveling bond with her twin and her father’s precarious mental condition are powerful anchors that ground the story and squeezed my heart.
Witty, hopeful and oh-so nerdy, I recommend this book to anyone who at one time or another has found themselves geeking out or struggling with growing up. Fangirls, and even fanboys, will find something to love in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5 hearts)