FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013)

14 Dec

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GENRE: Realistic Fiction

HONORS: New York Times Notable Book

REVIEW: Cath and her twin sister Wren are on their way to college but Cath isn’t ready to leave everything behind. She’s worried about their father, Art, who has been on shaky mental ground since their mother left ten years earlier. She feels abandoned by Wren, who wants to branch out and explore other friendships and share a room with someone who isn’t Cath for the first time in their lives. And most importantly, she’s not ready to leave Simon Snow behind, the lead of her favorite Harry Potter-like book series and the object of her fan fiction story Carry On, Simon which is wildly popular on the Internet. Cath is the ultimate fangirl—but she’s living in a world that’s not really her own. Simon and Baz are the main characters in her life. But as Cath moves through the complexities of her freshman year, her roommate Reagan, Reagan’s cute ex-boyfriend Levi, and a writing partner Nick, take key supporting roles as Cath learns to be her own best character in the original story of her life.

OPINION: A perfectly told story with just the right about of sweetness, bittersweetness, and complexity, Rowell has written another book that feels effortlessly consuming. Her characters crackle with charm and personality—Reagan, especially is a great mix of anger and allure. And Levi’s smile practically emanates from the page. The clever story-within-a-story creates a parallel of Simon and Cath’s lives which gives a lovely break away that always draws one back to the other story—you can’t wait to read Simon’s next chapter, but you don’t want to leave Cath’s evolving world either. In a lesser writer’s hands, it could feel cliché. But Rowell’s deftness with plot and dialogue give meaning to Cath’s quirky passion and gives us a glimpse at the world of fandom and people who never want a story to end. The same could be said of Fangirl. Let’s hope Cath and Levi live on somewhere on the Internet themselves.

IDEAS: Many comparisons have been made between Rowell’s voice and that of John Green. Both authors have found great success in telling stories of fully realized teens who are unpredictable, unaffected, and always truly themselves. A showcase of all of their books and a comparison of the protagonists of each could be very interesting.

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