July 11, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.

-from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Amazon | Goodreads

Fangirl is one of those YA books that you've either read or you've put off reading because you're afraid you won't love it as much as the rest of the YA population. For a long time I was in the latter group and I'm not sure why I didn't trust Rainbow Rowell after reading Eleanor and Park, but I'm glad I finally checked this book off my TBR list. If you are or were a teenage fangirl in anyway, this is definitely a book you shouldn't put aside any longer.

Rainbow Rowell's third novel essentially follows the evolution of Cath Avery as she goes through her first year of college. On the outside, Cath is a fan of the Simon Snow book series and writes fan fiction, sometimes even with her twin sister, Wren. On the inside, Cath is a pro at setting boundaries and not letting people in because her mother left Cath, Wren and their dad when they were little. When Cath enters college and Wren wants to separate themselves as individuals from their twin habits, Cath finds herself alone and vulnerable to all the change. While she wants to stay locked away inside herself and her fan fiction where nobody can hurt her emotionally, with a little help from new friends, Cath might just be able to learn how to trust and grow without losing herself. 

I am always in awe of the way Rainbow Rowell is able to capture a character and make them so realistic. I really, really loved Cath despite her flaws because of the way Rowell constructs her (and believe me, I was annoyed with her plenty of times!). I can relate to her for a variety of personal reasons: the way she makes boundaries because of her absent parent, the way she guards her emotions and shelters herself, her co-dependence because of her manic father, and most of all her fan fiction (I had a fairly popular fan fic myself when I was Cath's age). Even Rowell's supporting characters are impeccably real, from Levi and Reagan to Cath's twin sister, Wren. I especially appreciated that Cath's dad wasn't a stock parental character but had his own depth and complications that added to the story. 

While one of my biggest complaints is that this story is just too long and somewhat aimless at times, that complaint is very forgivable given Rowell's craftsmanship of the characters. I don't know that I could have enjoyed such a long character-driven YA story without the strength of those characters. Similarly, I could have lived without all the fan fiction excerpts that end each chapter, although I'm sure if I examined them and deconstructed this novel better, I would find a real appreciation for them. But even the fan fiction characters were crafted well enough that I could overlook my indifference and find the parallels they draw to the novel's main characters. 

Overall, Fangirl is a warm and fulfilling novel that I found myself reading at any opportunity. While I know that my enjoyment of it stems mostly from being able to identify with Cath in a variety of ways, I think other readers will also like Rowell's strong writing style and tangible characters enough to make this a book for the favorites shelf. 

Bottom Line: If you were ever a fangirl of anything, definitely pick up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It's coming-of-age story colored with strong characters is one you won't soon forget. 4.5/5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you read this one!!! And I'm glad you liked it!! I totally agree with you about the characters... they were all so real and different and like individualized that it really made the book. Although maybe Levi was a little too perfect?? I don't know I loved him :) I didn't really love all the fanfic entries either. I could have lived with that part being cut in half. I mean I get it Draco and Harry Potter want to get it on LOL. But I loved how there are so many aspects to Cath for people to relate to. I personally related to how lonely she was when she first started college. It was totally like that for me at first (although I went to the cafeteria).

    Sorry for the loooong comment :)


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