Author: Rainbow Rowell
Read: May 2018
This was my first Rainbow Rowell book. I had been interested in some of her other books before, but not enough to actually read them. Earlier this year, I kept seeing Fangirl everywhere. So, when my birthday came around, and I was thinking of books to put on my wish list, I decided to add it. And I got it. (Thank you, Mom.)
Initially, I thought this book was about a fangirl going to college, and dealing with the changes that come with that. And it is. Basically. But this book doesn’t really feel like a book about a fangirl. It’s more of a girl going to college.
So, Cath is definitely a fangirl. Don’t get me wrong. She’s been in love with a book series for a very long time. She has been writing fan fiction with her twin sister, Wren, for most of that time as well. She is very well-known in the fandom for her fan fiction book, Carry On. Throughout Fangirl, you get snippets of Carry On and, even though I liked reading some of them, I didn’t see how they added to the story at all. I can see how someone might think that Rowell needed to include them to show that Cath really does write it, that it exists and isn’t just a character detail that get’s glossed over. But, I found myself not wanting to read them because I just wanted to read the main story. But, I didn’t want to skip them because I wasn’t sure if it was going to be brought up in the actual chapters. So, they really just annoyed me.
Cath and Wren are twin sisters and they’re also best friends. They’ve been sharing a bedroom their whole life. They used to write their fan fiction together, but Wren decided not to anymore. Then, when they were accepted into the same college, Cath expects them to share a dorm. But Wren tells her that she doesn’t want to and gets a different roommate. Obviously, that hurts Cath and she doesn’t understand the changes that have been going on with Wren.
I completely understood this feeling. With friends that grow apart, it hurts and I totally get that too. But I have three older sisters and we used to be close and we used to share this big bedroom together when we were younger. Of course when my sisters started getting older, they didn’t want to share a room with their younger sisters. So we separated into three rooms. My oldest two sisters got their own rooms, and my sister closest to me in age shared a room with me. We still had fun and she’s still my favorite sister (lol), but I missed the way we were all together. I related to Cath as a sister and a friend that feels abandoned by the one person you thought had your back. Especially when she doesn’t have anyone else in her life as close as Wren.
Cath is depicted as this quiet, shy fangirl who doesn’t want to do anything except write her fan fiction. I understand being partially consumed by a project or something and wanting to focus on it, but Rowell makes Cath someone who disregards everything else to work on her fan fiction.
I feel like this book portrays a certain type of fangirl. I could relate to loving a book series and being part of a fandom, but Fangirl, feels like a stereotyped version. I know that there are multiple types of fangirls (and fanboys) and one person can love something in a completely different way than another person does. I don’t get why fangirls are often seen as shy and nerdy and unable to function in society because they’re so obsessed with a fictional one. Don’t get me wrong, I am nerdy and I have no shame about that. But no one in a fandom is the same. It felt like we were getting an expectation and not a reality.
Fangirl was a pretty average read for me. I gave it three out of five stars. I didn’t dislike it completely, but there wasn’t anything that I loved about it either. The romance is sweet, and I’m a complete sucker for a happy ending so that part was good. So I leave you with this:
“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy. It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
Fangirl, p. 387