Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 8:34 am
Not your average coming-of-age story.
I was cautiously optimistic about Rainbow Rowell's third novel, Fangirl. Attachments and Eleanor and Park, Rowell's previous two novels, were books that were so different from each other, I had no idea what to expect from the latest.
In fact, it ended up being my favorite book so far.
Cath and her twin sister Wren are Simon Snow fans. Everyone loves Simon Snow, a fictional wizard (who may remind you of another wizard you know), but the sisters delved deep into the fandom, even writing fanfiction and dressing up for midnight premieres.
But then the girls get ready to leave for college. Wren starts pulling away from Simon Snow and lets Cath know she doesn't want to room together for their freshman year. Suddenly, everything is changing way too fast for Cath. She's not even sure she's ready to be away from home and/or leaving her dad by himself. Add to that a surly upperclassman roommate with her ever-present boyfriend and Cath's just not sure how to deal anymore. Does growing up mean leaving behind the things you love the most?
I'm often leery of stories where life transition is just too easy. No one is certain or fearless when it comes to making new friends and moving away from home and to a new city. And that's often because it's not a seamless experience, even if everyone else seems to make it look effortless. Sometimes, we're proud just to make it through in one piece.
Rowell gets all these moments of life just right. I saw so much of my own experiences in Cath's. Especially the one where putting yourself out there and showing up leads to a life full of people and experiences better than you could have ever imagined.
P.S. Also, my perception of Rowell now includes "psychic" due to her portrayal of University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Throughout my reading, I kept asking my husband (a Nebraskan native) about UNL. He began telling me about a really good place to get ice cream, but couldn't remember the store's name. Within the next couple sentences, that landmark came up in Fangirl! I popped my head up and said, "Were you thinking of the Dairy Store?" Sure enough, he was! So, also read Fangirl if you want to shock and amaze all your friends from Nebraska.