Today, I finished reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. When I picked it up before Christmas, I was simply cover shopping. It’s something I do when I don’t have a particular book or author in mind – I look around to see which covers catch my eye. This one summoned me to its shelf almost immediately – its light, pastel green standing out among the jackets of the surrounding books. And the title described me in one word. Not many books can do that. Here’s the excerpt from the inside sleeve:
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 fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from the 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 fanfiction 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?
This book was really hard to put down. I’m sad it’s over. It was a refreshing change from the high fantasy and action I usually find myself reading. It was realistic fiction that I could actually relate to.
College is a big adjustment. In many situations, you have to think for yourself; no one is going to hold your hand. I can see why Cath doesn’t want to let go of Simon Snow. Sometimes, fandoms seem like all you have.
What frustrates me though, is that she thinks she has to let go at all. I struggled with the same issue; I felt that I had to let go of all my favorite fictional characters because people would think I was weird if I held on, and that was the last thing I wanted. As I grew up, more of my life fell into place and I had an epiphany: my imagination was never a bad thing. It was actually an indispensable tool.
I like how Rowell included parts of the Simon Snow books and fanfiction into the story as a whole. It didn’t interrupt the flow of the story, and it never seemed out of place.
If you’ve ever questioned who you are, or resented the quirky things that make you unique, you’ll find reassurance – as well as insight – in this book. It may be fiction, but it is one of the most realistic things I’ve ever read.