Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Cath knows exactly what she is. She’s a fan of Simon Snow, a magical series of books that rival Harry Potter in popularity. She’s a twin. She’s a college freshman. And she does not want to go out and meet people or party. She’s much happier in her dorm room writing fan fiction about Simon Snow and his arch nemesis Baz, where she has reworked them as a steamy gay couple. Cath’s twin also attends the same college, but Wren does not want to be seen much together and is completely into the college party scene. So Cath spends much of her time alone or with her prickly new roommate, eating protein bars and peanut butter because the dining hall freaks her out. Soon Cath will be asked to choose between writing fiction and writing Simon Snow fan fiction. She will need to figure out how to let her Dad live his own life even though he is fragile. But most of all, she needs to figure out how to live life on her own terms and have it be a life worth living.
Rowell does it again with this second book for teens. Her writing voice is uniquely hers, so that her books could only be written by her. She has a wonderful sense of humor that runs through her books, often popping up in the most serious of moments like humor often does in real life. This book is complicated, about more than one expects from the title. While it is about fan fiction, it’s also about so much more, including being a young writer, the writing process, siblings, broken families, and even first love.
Her characters are deep and worth spending time with. Cath is remarkable both in her own issues that she carries with her but also in the way that she survives and flourishes. Her early days at college echo many of my own fears, though I never succumbed to eating protein bars to survive. Many high school students will see their own thoughts reflected here too. It’s universal and makes Cath immediately relatable and lovable. And I must comment again about how well Rowell writes romance and sex scenes. Sex is part of life in her novels, something to be applauded, where no young women are made to feel slutty because they are sexually active. It is beautifully handled.
I can’t wait to see where Rowell takes us next. She is an author who belongs on lists alongside John Green and Gayle Forman. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from library copy.