I love this book so much. I cried. It felt like it was plucked from my soul and inked onto the page. I have no other words.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
The first time I read Fangirl was mid 2014. I loved it. I loved it so much I reread it in January of this year. And I vowed to write a full review of the book, paying homage to a novel that quickly shot to the top of my favorites list. And then... I didn't. I started a post, wrote those words above and never wrote about it again. But this novel deserves all of my unsung praises and I want to document my love for it, so here we are.
*Note: I have a tendency of referring my favorite authors by first name as if they are my friends because their stories make me feel like I know them, like they are my homegirls. Rainbow is my homegirl. Her stories feel like home.
I think Rainbow is my soul sister (or maybe Cath Avery, the main character is my soul sister) because this story spoke to my soul. Cath Avery is the ultimate Simon Snow fangirl. She, under the internet persona MagiCath, began writing Simon Snow fanfiction years ago with her twin sister Wren and now, her story is the most well-known fanfiction in the magical Simon Snow fandom. As they enter their freshman year of college, Wren begins to move away from the fandom, so determined to make her own friends and find her own identity that she and Cath aren't even roommates. Without her built in bestfriend, Cath has to learn to navigate college life, which means living outside of her comfort zone and the Simon Snow-crazed world she's created for herself. And she's not even sure if that's what she wants.
My love for this novel stems from relating to it so damn much. I wasn't as much a part of the Harry Potter (or any other) fandom like Cath is, but I do have a personality that kind of obsesses over the things I like. And as an avid reader, then and now, I know what it's like to really love (and sometimes prefer) plunging into the waters of fictional worlds. There's something so magical about immersing yourself into a story that isn't your own and finding that you care about the characters as if they were real. It's something that most readers and writers feel every time they open a book or pick up a pen. Not only do I relate to Cath's love of books, her life is also quite similar to my own. Many of the things she struggled with throughout the novel were also personal struggles that I had to overcome, and eerily enough, I also confronted these things in my freshman year of college. Because of these connections, this book made me cry - making it only the second novel to illicit tears from me solely on the basis of how wonderful it is and how I love it so. I read the final 30 pages, specifically the last two chapters, through tear-filled eyes and it made me love it even more.
Rainbow's characters are my absolutely favorite part of all of her novels. There are those that feel they can't connect with her books because they are so character-driven or "not much happens", but I disagree. I love that Rainbow creates this robust characters that are capable of carrying the novel, and I don't think "nothing happens" because life is happening. Everyone in Fangirl has their own storyline, whether they are falling in love, finding themselves or learning something entirely new about who they are. There's Cath and her twin sister Wren who share so many similar traits and experiences yet because of how each girl processes their lives, end up entirely different people. Cath is witty and funny and passionate and painfully awkward. Wren is fun and lively and confident. Reagan, Cath's roommate, is sarcastic and a bit inappropriate but hilarious, while Levi is sweet and a little strange, and although he doesn't always make the perfect decisions he somehow handles it perfectly. Even Nick, whom I absolutely hated from the start, was a unique and interesting character, providing friendship for Cath when she needed it most. There are no annoying 'extra' characters; each and every character is indispensable to the story.
Not only does Rainbow just have a knack for creating great characters, writing leaves me speechless. It's simple without lacking personality and her voice is strong and unique. Prior to this novel, I'd only read Attachments by her which I also loved, so this novel solidified her voice for me. And ever since, Rainbow's writing voice has been like a mother's voice to a newborn baby, I'd know it anywhere. There are moments I forget why I love her stories so much, and then I read a paragraph and sigh as the nostalgia waves over me. How could I ever forget how much I love her writing? I should be ashamed of myself. A few months ago, a friend, whom I greatly value the opinion of, read one of my stories and said that my writing reminded her of Rainbow's. It was one of the biggest compliments on my writing I've ever received.
“I miss you."
"That's stupid," she said. "I saw you this morning."
"It's not the time," he said, and she could hear that he was smiling." It's the distance.”
“And sometimes you held somebody’s hand just to prove that you were still alive, and that another human being was there to testify to that fact.”
"Ready or not, here I come. Here I come, ready or not."