15 October 2013
In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
If Fangirl had existed when I was a HS senior I would have ate it up with a spoon and asked for more. It is such a great YA/coming of age story.
I was a bit like Cather when I started undergrad - socially quiet, maybe a little unsure of who I was but definitely sure that I was smart and talented, and I went to a big state university. My first serious relationships were in undergrad as well as my first major crises of confidence. Granted, not all within my freshman year as happens to Cath.
I really liked how Rowell contrasted Cath's outgoing immersion in the Simon Snow fanbase with her tentative interactions among the student body in the real world. Add to that Cath's support - her twin Wren - has decided that she no longer wants to do the "twin thing" and not only changes her social group but also her appearance. Rowell allows Cath to make mistakes as she goes and to learn from them. And Cath slowly learns that she is strong enough to take life on her own terms. This leads me to wonder why the "New Adult" category is so narrowly defined because Cather's story is definitely one in which a new adult learns to be an adult.
Now, mixed in with all this are snippets of Simon Snow novels - a Harry Potter stand-in - and Simon Snow fanfic as written by Cather. All of it is great fun.