When I first read the title of this book, my immediate thought was to laugh and think “Oh look, someone has written my autobiography” and, coincidentally, when my boyfriend saw what I was reading, he said the same thing. In many ways, reading this story felt a little like reading about myself, or at least a version of myself.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell follows the freshman year of Cath Avery and her twin sister Wren (I love that their names are Cather and Wren…like Catherine). Cath is introverted, socially anxious and prefers to immerse herself in the world of fanfiction than to interact with actual living, breathing human beings. On her first day at her new University, Cath meets Levi, who is sunshine personified. The book follows her journey through her first year, through writing her massively popular Simon Snow fanfiction, family dramas, falling in love, and everything in between. It’s funny, heartwarming, and more relatable than you may think.
For me, Fangirl became one of those books that had me hooked within the first couple of pages. Seriously, I was reluctant to even put it down to go to bed. I became so invested in these characters that I was desperate to find out what was going to happen and even how, having finished the book in its entirety, I still want to know more (in the back of the book, Rowell acknowledges that there are people online who write Fangirl fanfiction…I may need to look into this). Rowell writes these characters as believable, multi-dimensional entities, with highly relatable traits and storylines. Personally, I found Cath to be most like myself: introverted, reluctant to socialise, heavily invested in fandoms. While I’m not technically “part” of any one fandom, I do find myself invested in the culture, though I’m more watching from the sidelines than anything else.
The relationships between Cath and the other characters (namely her sister, her roommate, and the wonderful Levi) are all written to feel different from one another. It feels very much like real life, where relationship dynamics change between different people in your life. Her relationship with Levi, for instance, shows her hesitance and her fear of her first real romantic relationship, which is something that I imagine we all can relate to. Her relationship with her twin sister, Wren, feels much like a sibling relationship does, where there is tension but ultimately, they are always there to have your back.
Overall, I loved this book. I imagine it’s going to be one of my favourites this year (even if I am a little late to the party). I can’t wait to read more of Rainbow Rowell’s work in the near future.
Also, as a sidenote, I love that the fanfiction written by Cath is actually a book by the author…so cool.