It’s possible that I’ve mentioned (once or twice…or over and over…) my love for and obsession with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Yes, it’s true – I’m a fangirl for Fangirl. This is a book that literally left me dreaming about the characters. There are tons of reasons for someone to love this book of course – Rainbow Rowell is a remarkably talented author, as anyone who has read Eleanor & Park knows, and there’s not much more explanation than that needed for why someone would feel affectionate towards her work. And when it comes down to it, I loved Fangirl for the same reasons anyone loves a great book.
But Fangirl for me is something special, and I haven’t quite been able to figure out why. Sometimes you just find a book that speaks to you, and Fangirl was one of those books for me. Part of it comes from actual shared experiences with the characters. Cath, the main character, writes fan-fiction set in the world of Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-type series of books). It’s her way of escaping what’s wrong in her life, exploring a world she loves in new ways, and honing her writing skills. I spent many of my teenager years, yup, writing fan-fiction – to escape what I didn’t like about my life, to explore worlds (mostly just one world) I loved in new ways, and to hone my writing skills. Obviously, I identify with Cath in some pretty key ways.
But that’s certainly not all that made Fangirl touch me so much. After all, I’m very unlike Cath in a lot of ways too. She spends the first part of her freshman year of college feeling steadily more betrayed by her sister Wren’s distance, coping with her social anxiety, cautiously making a very small amount of new friends, and discovering the joys and pains of interacting with other writers. And none of these things is anything like my college freshman experience. But the beauty of a good book is that it can be just as powerful in terms of people, characters, and experiences that are new to us as those that are comfortable and identifiable. And for me, Fangirl was a pretty perfect combination of the familiar and the new.
I also loved the way Rainbow Rowell didn’t vilify anybody, didn’t give any easy answers, and explored all kinds of morals and experiences. Cath certainly makes plenty of missteps, including some in her relationship with Wren. But then, so does Wren – sometimes I wanted to slap her. When a potential love interest does something that hurts Cath, I understood her pain – but I also felt like I understood him a little, and couldn’t blame him entirely. And that’s what’s beautiful about the world Rainbow Rowell has created in Fangirl – just like real life, nothing is black and white, everything has nuances and layers. I think this, as much as anything else, is what allowed me to immerse myself completely in Fangirl, not just once, but twice in the span of a month.
Of course, I can’t discount everything else that’s wonderful about Fangirl. The supporting characters are fantastic, and I’m pretty sure I would read a book with any of them as the main character. The excerpts from the Simon Snow books and Cath’s fan-fiction are delightful, and I know I would read the Simon Snow series if it were real. The romance is completely and utterly swoon-worthy – I could not get enough of it. What it comes down to is that I love Fangirl for all the reasons you love a really great book – I loved the characters, the writing, and the world-building, and all I wanted when I finished was to go back immediately and start reading it again.
So whether you’re about to start college and want to read about Cath’s experiences, whether you loved Eleanor & Park and want more, or whether you’re just looking for a great summer read, find Fangirl in our catalog and place a hold ASAP! While you wait for it to come in, let us know – what books are you fangirling about this summer?