Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Rating: ★★★★★
"Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision."
Fangirl, for me, hits all the right notes that Eleanor & Park hadn’t. And although there were some things within the story that irked me a little bit, it didn’t disappoint and was overall one of the most enjoyable young adult contemporary novels I’ve read. You know, ever. There was just something about this story that was charming and cute and real that made me love it instantaneously and I already am finding myself wanting to reread it.
And I can see this novel making a lasting impression on many teenagers and adults alike. It’s probably the first novel I’ve read that has the main character write fanfiction, too, and I think it’s pretty great to see that side of writing and the age of the internet represented too. Fangirl also has the classic makings of many love stories — not just between the romantic side of things, either.
We see the bond of a pair of twins crumble in many ways, and the lasting scars of having been abandoned by a mother. We see the relationship of a strong father/daughter dynamic. Then there’s the love of writing in an ‘unique’ way, that feeling of your childhood ending in some ways and falling in love for the first time.
It’s genuinely a sweet novel that explores the life of a college aged girl who has quite the difficult time exploring the world outside her own.
There are many memorable parts in Fangirl, and if you haven’t read it I’m going to try to not spoil the novel for you. I quite liked the interactions between Cath and her sister, Wren, even when things aren’t exactly peachy between the two. And I loved, loved, loved the family dynamic between Cath and Wren and her father, as well as the complications between the two girls and their estranged mother. I loved that we can relate to them on a certain level — with their obsession with Simon Snow; which parallels ours with Harry Potter.
(Not all of ours, but you get the point!)
And although I loved those moments, and I hate to sound cliche, my favorite parts in this novel mostly consisted of interactions between Cath and Levi. I think that they are good for each other in ways the rest of their peers wouldn’t be. And I’m glad Cath’s roommate and Levi’s ex girlfriend/best friend, Reagan, is being very good about the budding romance between the two.
I was hoping for more of Reagan, on that note. I thought that it was great how in spite of her attitude, she still looks out for Cath and sort of takes her under her wing. She seems to be a very complex character and it would have been great to read more about her; she offers a great level of comic relief to our story and is just an all around fun character to read. She’s so sassy and sarcastic and confident, I loved it.
Fangirl manages to explore the college setting with grace and we get to watch our narrator come out of her shell bit by bit and accept what she loves to do. It’s always great to watch a character grow and transform without changing who they are and Rainbow Rowell manages just that with Cath. I liked that most of the loose ends and plots were tied well together in the conclusion and just can’t get enough of this gem of a book.
I recommend this to anyone who loves Rainbow’s writing, or is looking to read something by her. Even if you weren’t fond of Eleanor & Park, you should give this one a shot. It’s a fun, light read that contains many moments you’ll think about or relate to by the end of the story and it is the perfect summer beach read.
Especially for a fangirl.