Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell. 14 and up. St. Martin’s Press. 433 pages. Copy provided by my library.

I think I have just discovered my favorite book of the year. Quite possibly my favorite book ever! Well, yes, I do have many, many favorites, but just trust me on this one. Fangirl is a really, really good book. I can’t remember the last book I read that affected me so deeply, that had me so lost in the story and the characters, so believing in every single word on the page. I don’t remember the last time I discovered an author who was speaking TO ME. Who wrote this book FOR ME. That is how Rainbow Rowell makes you feel. She has an amazing ability to look into the human soul and somehow capture it on the page. Have I mentioned I love this book?

Oh, you wanted an actual review? Not just me gushing my heart out in love? Okay, I’ll try to see what I can do.

Fangirl is the story of Cath in her freshman year of college. There absolutely need to be more books about this important life transition. (Another 2013 book that deals with year, though in my opinion not nearly so well, is Just One Day by Gayle Forman. Interesting to compare the two.) Anyway, Cath is very close to her twin sister Wren. They are going to the same Nebraska university but Wren doesn’t want to be roommates. She wants to experience college to the fullest and have her own social life apart from her sister. Cath has social anxiety and is a bit of a hermit, so she isn’t used to meeting people or doing things without Wren by her side. Navigating college on her own is really tough. Cath also writes fanfiction and has thousands of readers who hang on her every word. She is writing a Simon Snow story and is racing to get it finished before the final Simon Snow novel comes out. Over time, Cath does start to slowly make friends with her roommate and her roommate’s friend Levi.

The novel covers a whole year in Cath’s life. Some parts might feel slow to some readers, or as though not a lot is happening. But I loved the slower pace. Through that year we get to watch her grow into herself, find her voice as a writer, deal with her relationships with her partying sister and her mentally unstable dad and her nonexistent relationship with her mother (who left them), and oh did I mention fall in love? This book has the most achingly lovely and real romance. Normally I’m not a gushy person but oh I loved it and it made me feel swoony. Plus, there are so many parts that are just witty and hilarious and so, so funny. Rowell has such an amazing way with words. As a diehard Harry Potter fan, I loved the Simon Snow passages interspersed throughout. I actually really wish they were real books and that I could read more of that story. It was wonderful.

So, if I sound like I only have good things to say about this book, it is because mostly I do. It is a long book with a lot of plot threads and the ending seemed a little rushed in the way it tied up all the threads pretty quickly. I would have liked a slower burn of an ending to fit the pace of the rest of the book. Really, though, I just didn’t want the book to end. Cath and Levi and Wren and her dad and all the characters are so real to me now that as soon as I finished the book I missed them. And I have to say once again, this is the best book I’ve read all year.

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