Sunday, April 6, 2014

So Much to Squee About: Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Press, 2013

Cath's freshman year of college is off to a rocky start before she even gets to campus. She's a girl who doesn't do so well with change, but that's all that's happening lately. First her identical twin sister Wren doesn't want to live with Cath at school, so her new roommate is a surly girl whose boyfriend is always with her. Then there's her writing professor who doesn't like fanfiction, which is something Cath can't even comprehend. She may not be great with people in real life, but she's sort-of Internet famous for the Simon Snow fan fic she writes, and with the final book in the series coming out next year, Cath is racing to finish her own spin-off first. Plus there's Dad, home all alone  so of course Cath worries. Can Cath give up all the things she's comfortable with and knows? And does she even want to?

This is one of the most perfect books I think I've ever read especially in terms of having a story that is an honest, realistic portrayal of a freshman year at college. I see so much of myself in Cath that my heart ached. Roommate issues. Going to the same college as her sibling. Trying to find a place in her major. Being on her own for the first time. So many of the highs and lows typical of a college experience are here and I completely loved that.

Rowell has a gift for turning phrases and guiding her readers through the wide range of emotions that Cath comes to face over the course of 10 months. This is a relationship book in lot of ways, both romatically and platonically. Cath's relationships with her dad, mom, sister, and friends all get their turn in the spotlight in addtion to her first romantic love. What unfolds between her and Levi takes its time and made me swoon with the force of these shy but powerful Feels, and what was great is that readers got to see their relationship. Not just a first kiss at the end of a story, but seeing these two people grow and work together and fall first into like, then into love.

Plus I feel like I can connect with this story on a slightly different level because I'm a part of the Harry Potter generation, growing up with that series like Cath does Simon Snow. The last book came out in June 2007, a month after I survived my freshman year of college.

I can't remember the last time I was torn between being happy I was flying through an incredible book while at the same time trying to force myself to slow down because I didn't want it to end. (Actually, it was probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.) So thanks, Rainbow, for painting an a true-to-life portrait of us fangirls, college, and the growing pains that can actually make us stronger. You can bet I'll be buying a copy of this one - it's one of those books I'll probably never shut up about and the only reason I didn't read it sooner is because my students always had it checked out :)

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

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  1. I LOVED this book!! I seriously read it in an afternoon because I couldn't put it down. But everything Rainbow writes is amazing.

    1. I've been anxiously checking my mailbox everyday to see if my copy has come yet! The only other book of her's I've read is Attachments, but they both had a magical way of taking me to the past and giving me characters I could completely feel for :)

  2. Every single time I walk into my school library I have a mental debate with myself over whether or not to check this book out. It's always on display, just waiting for me to pick it up...But I'm currently drowning in my TBR pile of all the books I own, so I think if I can get through a bunch of my own books, I'll reward myself by checking this one out. :) I have no doubt in my mind that I'm going to love it, so I guess it's nice to have an awesome book to look forward to.
    I'm especially excited to read this because I'm starting to seriously think about the whole college thing (I'm a junior in high school so college is always on my mind), and I'm starting to seek out stories that take place at college.
    Excellent review, Monica!

    1. Oh the ever-present TBR pile. How it manages to be a site of both wonder and dread. I really cannot recommend this one highly enough. It's one of those wonderful moments when I'm sad a book like this didn't exist when I was in high school to help prepare me, but then I'm also glad to read it now and feel a kinship with a "fellow survivor." Since I know you love contemporary fiction, I KNOW you will absolutely love this book. And Levi who is one of the best book boyfriends ever :)