- Craig Graziano
Cath is a Fangirl. Like many teens her age, she loves the hugely popular Simon Snow fantasy books. But Cath is not simply resigned to wait for each new volume's release. She writes new stories about magical prodigy Simon and his school roommate, vampire, and possible nemesis, Baz.
This fan-fiction hobby has given her a lot of attention online. Each of her stories now receives 20,000 page views. She's weirdly popular in Japan, and when she is writing, she feels safe and secure.
For anyone, a new change takes getting used to, and college is a gigantic change for Cath. She and her twin sister Wren are both moving away from home to go to the same school. Wren could not be more excited. For Cath though, the change is potentially crippling.
For starters, Cath's roommate Reagan is incredibly intense. She is older, brasher, and dresses way more provocatively than Cath would ever imagine attempting. Cath quickly assumes that Reagan hates her. Then there is Levi, one of several boys that Reagan regularly brings back into the dorm room. She is unsure if this pair are making fun of her or just apathetic to her entire existence.
Cath is about to find that much of what she assumes about Reagan and Levi is both false and fear-driven. She also has to juggle her new relationships with her anxieties over her family.
She worries about her father, who is alone and not taking care of himself. She worries about Wren, who has fully thrown herself into the college party culture. She worries about her mother, who abruptly left a decade ago and is now trying to reconnect. Most of all, Cath worries that she does not belong at school, anywhere really, and should just give up. The only time Cath does not worry is when she writes her fan-fiction.
Speaking of fan-fiction, the stories that Cath writes are of a certain genre known as slash fiction, which are often love stories between two characters of the same sex. Imagine Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy falling for each other and you get the picture. Slash fiction is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but Cath's stories are tasteful and focused on character and plot. I was happy to see excerpts of the fictional Simon Snow novels as well as Cath's elaborations.
Fangirl is about stepping into a new world before you are quite ready to make that leap. It is also about first love, creativity, confidence, patience, and forgiveness. Author Rainbow Rowell has already proven her mastery of these themes in her enchanting misfit romance Eleanor & Park. Her only other novel, for adults, is titled Attachments. If that title is half as good as her teen books, I'll be hooked for life.