Written by: Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: 2013, St. Martin’s Griffin
Thoughts: When twins Cath and Wren go off to college, Cath just wants to keep writing fan-fiction about Simon Snow and struggles with loneliness when Wren just wants to party.
Brief Plot Summary: Twins Cath and Wren have always done everything together, especially since their mother left them when they were little girls. Living with their loving father who struggles with bipolar disorder, the girls spent their time in high school writing fan-fiction about Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-esque fictional character. The final book in the Simon Snow series is coming out near the end of what will be Cath and Wren’s first year in college, but when they get to college, Wren doesn’t really want much to do with Cath anymore. Wren has always been the “pretty,” social twin, and Cath struggles with social anxiety. Cath didn’t even want to go away to college. She continues to write her very popular fan-fiction – largely about a relationship she has created between the two male characters, Simon and Baz – as she gets lonelier and lonelier. In addition to watching Wren get drunk all the time, Cath watches Wren develop a relationship with their
Thoughts: I read this book because I love Rainbow Rowell. Attachments, her first book and an adult romantic comedy, is one of my favorite books in recent years, and Fangirl is equally enjoyable. In Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell sweetly illuminates the coming-of-age theme in a character who struggles with social anxiety and whose haven is the internet community of fellow fans of a fictional character. Cath loses herself in the world of Simon Snow, and Fangirl’s readers will lose themselves in Cath. Rowell also explores hot topics such as binge-drinking, mental illness, and teen sexuality. She deals with homosexuality in a matter-of-fact way: by making the Cath’s fan-fiction about the (imagined) homosexuality of the two main male characters in Simon Snow, and making this fan-fiction incredibly popular. Vignettes from Simon Snow, and from Cath’s fan-fiction, are interspersed through the book, and these characters grow as Cath does. Simon’s isolation mirrors Cath’s own isolation from growing up without a mother, and now from losing her twin, at least for the moment, and this is a very interesting literary device - the fiction within fiction. Another theme is whether you have to give up parts of yourself to grow up, as Cath wonders if she has to give up Simon Snow. This is something all teens will be able to relate to: soon they will be adults, away from friends and family, and figuring out what that means, which parts of themselves to retain and which to throw away. Ultimately, Cath accepts herself for who she is, and is not only accepted for being that person but embraced, which is a wonderful lesson for teens to learn. All of this happens in a humorous and sweet story, one that the reader will not want to end.
Information About the Author: From Rainbow Rowell’s website, www.rainbowrowell.com: “Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park and Fangirl). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love. When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.”