Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell has quickly become one of my favorite books. Cather, nicknamed Cath, has always relied on her sister, Wren, for companionship. Growing up, the two read Simon Snow and wrote fan fiction together. After their mother left, the sisters relied on the fantastical storylines to fill a void, allowing them to fall into a magical mystical world and spend time together doing something they loved.
While Wren has moved on with her life, extraordinarily excited for freshman year of college, Cath still loves Simon Snow more than anything. She has his posters in her dorm room and books by her bed. Cath still writes fan fiction, every day, wanting to continue the story of Baz and Simon. Cath assumed she and Wren would room together in college but Wren decided that it was time for the pair to separate and experience things on their own, forcing Cath into a situation she did not necessarily anticipate.
Cath is forced to room with Reagan, who is not a freshman but an upperclassman, who is not the most welcoming individual. In Chapter Four, Reagan reveals that she wanted a single room and was on a short list to receive one, but due to the resident halls being full, she ended up having to room with Cath. Oddly enough, the pair bond over the fact that they were forced to share a room. Cath soon starts to interact with Reagan’s friends, particularly Levi, who stops by their room on a regular basis. Rowell was able to incorporate his character in a manner that did not feel contrived whatsoever.
Rowell’s attention to detail warrants special acknowledgment. For instance, Cath’s mother did not know she was pregnant with twins, originally, selecting the name Catherine for her unborn daughter. When she found out she was going to have twins, she split the name in two, Cath and Wren. Small moments like this really resonate with me as a reader. I appreciated Rowell’s ability to add unexpected depths and conversations such as this.
Similarly, Rowell’s characters are entertaining and exceptional. Cath uses her fan fiction to fill a void in her life. By spending time on her computer, she is not out in the world experiencing things first hand. This characterization and personality trait is rather ingenious. Cath is a talented writer who chooses to focus on another author’s creation rather than craft her own story. In her creative writing class, Cath feels compelled to find a writing partner to work with rather than write on her own. Cath has a natural inclination to work with another person because that is the relationship she is used to such as her bond with Wren. Cath is not used to working independently or being by herself in general. In a manner of speaking, her fan fiction is reflective of her inner turmoil or ambiguity.
Rowell created a multidimensional protagonist who not only captivates the reader, but is someone they can root for throughout the duration of the story. As a reader, I wanted Cath to find happiness and develop a sense of being outside from her sister or her roommate. Simple moments such as her being able to eat by herself in the dining hall or interact with new people on campus made me proud of Cath and her character growth. I do not want to give away any spoilers, so I will refrain from writing about Cath’s romantic life, but I will say that in order for her to have a healthy romantic relationship it was important for her to develop a personal sense of worth and being beforehand. The manner in which Rowell included this development was brilliantly done.
Everything about Rowell’s writing was spectacular! Her characterizations, dialogue, setting, secondary characters, and subplots were all phenomenal and created a superb novel. I would give this book more than five stars if I could!