Cath and her twin sister Wren are freshmen in college, something Cath has been dreading for quite a while: ever since Wren told her that she didn’t want to be roommates with her in their dorm. Socially awkward Cath is at a loss. While Wren adjust easily to college life, especially the parties, Cath withdraws more and more into the fan fiction she’s writing about Simon Snow, the boy magician, and his vampire roommate Baz Pitch (a fic she used to write with Wren). But her roommate Reagan can’t watch this and starts to drag Cath out of her shell, aided by her best friend Levi whose easy-going and accessible nature helps considerably.
Fangirl is not only a sweet, captivating coming of age story, it’s also an accurate portrayal of fan culture as I know it – which is very rare. I blazed through it (as high velocity is apparently the only speed I can read Rainbow Rowell novels at) and I loved it.
Rainbow Rowell has such a healthy, loving approach to people, it is simply lovely. She knows her characters and she knows just where and how to push them to make the fault lines in their identity apparent, which is ultimately necessary for them to grow. They all get to grow in different ways, but usually in a good direction and through complex relationships, always keeping the balance between needing other people to grow and being comfortable with yourself to be with other people.
That’s especially apparent in Cath who is this close to actual neurosis at the beginning of the book. And it becomes clear that the next few months are crucial in her life: depending on her decisions and depending on the people around her, she might actually end up fully incapacitated by her closeness to mental illness, or she might recover and stumble back from the edge.
And that is a way that she can only go on her own, although not necessarily alone. And while she tries to figure her shit out, there is always fanculture to keep her engaged with the world. Yes, there might be some escapism in that as well, but above all it’s a way for Cath to stay grounded, to realize her own worth. And while all of Rowell’s books so far had their nerdy edge, none of them were as outspoke about fan culture in such a strong and loving way.
Plus, all the characters are like the most adorable persons ever and I wanted to put them all in my pocket to keep them with me at all times.
Summarizing: I couldn’t wish it any better if I tried.