If it's good, I'll read it! Instagram: @crystenasbooks
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 6 stars out of 5. No that's not a typo. This is one of my top 5 books of all time.
Quote: "Just... isn't giving up allowed sometimes? Isn't it ok to say, 'This really hurts, so I'm going to stop trying.' "
"It sets a bad precedent."
"For avoiding pain?"
"For avoiding life."
Book Blurb: In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world 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.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
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?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
OK. I'm sure you've seen me gushing about this book. Why do I relate to it so much?
Let me try and explain. I used to write Star Wars fanfiction all throughout my teens and into my early twenties. No one read it, only me. Let me correct that, my brothers would read it too if I'd left it lying around. I used to call it "my story". (Sorry Mr. Lucas.) My brothers would tease me about it. If I was preoccupied with my notebook, "Are you working on "your story" again?" was a common question, followed by a "SHHHHHHHH!" as I went back to trying to nail whatever scene I was working on. I stopped writing when I was in my early twenties. But Cath's attachment, love and sense of safety she felt when it came to her fan fiction struck a nerve in me and brought up all those memories.
Cath, our main character, is an introvert. The scene at the beginning of the book that made me cry is where Cath got what I refer to as "people tired". I am also an introvert, I don't dislike being around people, but I do reach a point where I get anxious and need to be alone to reclaim my mental and physical space. I will cancel plans and disappear for a bit just to achieve peace again. Typing this, I realize I need to hug my best friends for putting up with it. Rowell manages to capture the conflicting emotions of this experience so well - knowing how you feel and wanting to not feel that way- I was moved.
There were parts of the novel that really got me. Cath's unwillingness to face her mother who had abandoned her and expressing it the way she did:
"I don't want her in this house thinking about how it used to be her house, and about how we used to be hers, too... I don't want her brain touching us."
- these were the sentiments I felt when I had to reconcile with someone in my family who had hurt me. I struggled with words then, and here they were put so perfectly.
I've never seen an introvert so well developed on paper. Never read a book that quite captured how I feel when I have anxious moments. When I'm people tired. When I just wanted to escape into writing. It was all there.
Reagan- Cath's friend. Everyone needs a Reagan in their life. I have two. The friend who may not get you 100% but they've got your back without question. I love good female relationships in fiction. We can be pretty hard on each other at times. Seeing each other as competition, judging, shaming - it's nice to see a realistic, caring portrayal of female friendship.
Levi - I was reading this book in a coffee shop Thursday night when I called up my friend Nise. I raved about the book. Then I told her I think I'm in love with a fictional character.
"Is that sad?" I asked her.
"Yep," she said. "What's this book called again? I want to be sad with you."
Levi just made me smile. I loved how he handled Cath. He wasn't perfect. In fact, at one point, he ticked me off. But he was sweet and won me over. He was a good balance for Cath.
Cath's dad - I really liked his character. He was flawed, he had struggles, but he was a good father. That balance was so well done.
Things I Struggled With
The Simon/Baz fanfic excerpts. I didn't like them. They were incongruous with the story, it's a fantasy story with vampires and the like. Oh I tried to read them. Something about swords and a rabbits...There's probably some deeper symbolism to it, and to be fair, I was probably too busy reading my biography into everything to decipher it. About halfway through, I just started skipping them. So you can do that and not lose anything if you don't like them. Except the last one- that one should probably be read. As a side note, Cath's fanfic version will be published by Rowell as a completely separate novel soon. So I really struggle to see the point of its inclusion. I won't be reading it.
That being said, that one hiccup doesn't change how I feel about this book.
Do I recommend this book? I'm planning on gifting it. I'm going to order a copy so I can highlight my favorite passages and re read at least once a year. So yeah, I recommend it.
I loved this book. Reading it made me feel less weird and alone. It's a great coming of age tale for introverts.