Hi, my name is Magie and I am a fangirl. I know that isn’t such a revelation or a foreign concept now-a-days but when I was 14 I barely said the word to myself. Somehow in the last few years it has been embraced and a part of pop culture to be highly, and overtly so in some cases, passionate or in love with something. I both love and loath it. I enjoy that it is now less of a thing to be afraid to admit, that fewer people are going to judge or mock you that you get really into a book or a TV show or comics or what have you, but part of me misses that sort of fourth wall if you will between forums and mainstream media. It’s a bizarre internal struggle that I don’t expect too many to understand…unless you read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell that just came out September 10th because she captures it perfectly.
I’ve anticipated this book for months and knew it wasn’t likely the book would disappoint my expectations for two reasons; I’ve read Rainbow’s work before (Attachments and Eleanor & Park) and completely adored them both from start to finish and also because I was excited to see a life I know well represented in a novel that could maybe open others eyes. And of course I was nothing but totally engrossed and so pathetically heart eyeing by the end. The added bonus to this is that I get to be apart of the first ever Tumblr Book Club who was brilliant enough to start their adventure with Fangirl, I’ll get to discuss this wonderful book with a large grouping of people who just get it. Not that I don’t want to share my thoughts with whoever is kind enough to read this blog, I always love to do that. Which speaking of let’s carry on with that.
Fangirl tags along with college freshman Cath who grew up being very much involved in the popular book and movie series Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-esque representation for this world) with her twin sister Wren. But now Wren wants independence and separation, both from Simon and Cath. Which leaves Cath to navigate the scary world of college almost completely alone, there is her roommate Reagan who is blunt in the best ways, Levi, (Regan’s boyfriend? One of a few?), with his blonde widow’s peak and heavy doses of chivalry, her fiction writing professor who frowns upon fanfiction (something Cath holds dear and is good at), and Nick, her writing partner with his scarfs and library nooks. Not to mention her constant worrying about her and Wren’s father back home.There are ups and downs and flat lands (it is set in Nebraska after all) but nothing takes Cath too far away from who she is. Sure she grows, in an undeniably amazing way, but she doesn’t let her surroundings alter things that are most important to her. She refuses to stop caring so fiercely about those she holds dear and allows past her walls, even if they are fictional characters.
For me, and I am sure for a number of readers, Cath is a pretty good representation of me as I entered my first year of college (she even has a thing about eyebrows! [see title of this blog]). All her anxieties about her interactions with people versus the comfort and familiarity of forums were pretty much exactly how I felt as I navigated my first few months. Rainbow has an incredible talent of perfectly describing emotions and the thoughts that run through the minds of her characters in ways that they feel so much like what her audience has thought or is thinking and feeling. I could pin point moments in Cath’s experience with scary similar ones in my own. Even when it was a scene with something I had never gone through I felt like I could react in a similar situation to Cath cause I was that on par with her. Along with the other characters you get this robust and yet so realistic story about growing up but not necessarily out of things.
I don’t know, I feel like maybe I am not doing a proper job defending the true awesomeness of this book. I am going to tell you to read it no matter the case, I do think it can be enjoyed by virtually anyone. If you are a fangirl or boy you are for sure going to love this and there is no question you should run out and get your hands on it. If you’re not I think you’d still really enjoy the story and the characters, and even better yet you could maybe understand someone in your life a little better. It’s over 400 pages but it is a quick read with fantastic wit, spot on dialogue, and as is always my favorite; amazing pop culture references. In an attempt to be vague and unspoilery I’ll do a bullet point rundown of quick thoughts.
- Cath = So crazy, easy to relate to. The perfect anchor for this story.
- Wren = At first you want to be mad at her but then you want to hug her, tons.
- Reagan = My favorite. Seriously she is the girl I always wanted to be. Always needs more Reagan.
- Levi = The hipster/farmer spawn of Draco Malfoy & Neville Longbottom. It makes sense trust me.
- Nick = Male version of the ‘manic pixie girl’ possibly…or just a dude who would really love a manic pixie girl. (I secretly love him too much I think :/)
- Professor Piper = Cath’s Mr. Feeny, she pushes cause she believes in Cath so much.
- Art (Cath & Wren’s Dad) = Adorable. Real. Good.
- Simon & Baz = OTP if there ever was one. Seriously I’d read those books.
- Agatha = The perfect one. But I want to know more about her.
- Penelope = Simon & Baz’s Regan, obviously amazing.
My other secret joy from the book is its location. I’ve said this before of Rainbow’s work but I love that she uses Nebraska as her settings (so far). If she at all remembers me from small twitter interactions I am sure she is so sick of it but I never tire of that connection. Maybe it is my own longing for Lincoln and UNL since I’ve graduated but I could not stop snorting when I could so perfectly picture Cath and the others in places such as Selleck dining hall, Andrews Hall, East Campus. I just, (just!) wholeheartedly enjoyed that extra connection I could make to the piece, making it that much more real and close to me. There is more to say but I need to re-read and pace myself for the book club discussions so this will have to do.