Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dorms & Cafeterias: Fangirl Review

I know, I know, you can yell at me later. Yes, this is the first time I've read this. Oops.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 445
Keywords: roommates, college, writing
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher
Goodreads | Book Depository
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?
Along the way, I stuck in little notes all throughout the book so I wouldn't forget what I wanted to say. This is not something I usually do. I normally make all my notes at the end and type them up into the post draft. But not this time. There were too many wonderful little details I wanted to note along the way because they were just so great. Below I'm sharing some of what I wrote on post-its.

Reagan is without a doubt one of the funniest, most realistic, and relatable characters in a book.
(Reagan is Cath's roommate, and she couldn't be more of the polar opposite of Cath, and I adore that she tells Cath how sad she is for her because she's so boring, and then she drags her to the dining hall to make fun of other people. My kind of girl.) Also, she's not a skinny girl, and while skinny's not bad (I'm a huge advocate for people being loving of literally any body type. People are all born differently), it was so wonderful to see a character that I could not only relate to personality-wise, but who was also confident with her own size, and even considered sexy while being full-figured. That's not something we, especially as young adult women, see every day.
"'I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend.'
'I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. 'I like that we're not friends.'
'Me too,' Reagan said. 'I'm sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.'"
I also marked a point in the book with the word "drunk" used as a verb which made me spit water out my nose. As in, "Cath hadn't eaten lunch at Selleck since Wren drunked at her." Best use of that word ever.

I felt so emotionally connected to Cath, and in the beginning she was so reluctant to write (let alone do anything else) outside her comfort bubble. Even in class, she was so hesitant to write about anything that wasn't Simon Snow. I just felt for her, and I wanted to jump in the book and be her writing partner so I could help her at least branch out and do something a little different.

And I even got into the Simon Snow stories, and this is a quote from one of the excerpts that really stuck with me:
"And sometimes you held somebody's hand just to prove that you were still alive, and that another human being was there to testify to that fact."
There were just so many different things brought up in this book that I was astounded by. The girls' struggle to take care of their dad when they left and his own issues, Cath's dealing with anxiety and learning to grow on her own and meet new people, culture surrounding women and their safety in bars and night scenes (the girls are approached scarily by a shady fellow once, and Cath needing to be ready to call 911 and holding her finger over the button as she sprinted back to her dorm room at night. Every page I turned there was something new and real and it was full of things I feel like average people deal with every day. I know I do. This just put Rowell on a whole new level for me.

I also want to talk about how frightened I was that I was so similar to beginning of book Cath.
1. I was VERY against drinking in high school (a teammate killed another student while driving under the influence, and as a result, I boycotted it), and my freshman year in college was a little terrifying. There was alcohol everywhere, and I never once set foot into a party. TERRIFIED. (Clearly, it's not that way now. I mean, I do a feature where I pair books with drinks. But still.)

2. Friday night nothing plans. That's right. Even by senior year, I reveled in the fact that I could go to my best friend's house in my pajamas and stay on the couch ALL WEEKEND. Seriously. We went to the grocery on Saturdays, but that was it.

3. Walking across campus at night. Even now, I know all I want to do is live in NYC, but I'm terrified for night time. I'm so paranoid, even on my teeny tiny liberal arts campus, I called my mom to walk to my apartment, just to be on the phone with someone. I wish I was a little more confident to be able to walk by myself.

I know this was a super long review, and basically the gist is how relatable this whole book is. It's real and honest and heartwarming, and it makes me actually believe in happy stories again. I realize that sounds dumb, but after reading so many happy-ending romance stories, it's like, no one really thinks things like this can be real. But this one does. It's so genuine, and that's what's so wonderful about it.

1 comment:

  1. I read Fangirl about a year about and I knew going into that I was going to love it simply because it was about a fangirl, but I ended up loving it for so much more than that--mainly for the reasons you mentioned. Rainbow Rowell immediately gained my respect for how she wrote about Cath and her anxiety. It was so real and I could relate to Cath so much, because I was her in college. I don't think I've ever read a book where anxiety has been handled in such a realistic way.

    Great review! I'm so glad you liked the book! :)


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