Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
Release date: 10 September 2013
Rating: ★★★★★★★★ – 8/10
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Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there’s romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realising that there’s more to learn about love than she’s ever thought possible…
Fangirl was the first Rainbow Rowell book I ever read. In fact, I had never even heard of her prior to picking this up randomly one day while perusing the YA section of my local bookstore. Needless to say, this is absolutely where my love affair with Rainbow started.
Cather (Cath) and Wren (their mum was a fan of the name Catherine) are identical twins who are just going off to college at the University of Nebraska. Cath has anxiety issues and prefers to spend time with those few people who are near to her. These issues possibly stem from the abandonment of her mother at a young age, which forced Cath to grow up quickly – particularly as her father suffers from mild bipolar. Wren, on the other hand, is outgoing and wants to experience a full and fun-filled stint at university. Wren ditches Cath before they even walk through the gates and is off partying at the first chance.
The relationship between the two sisters is part of what makes this Rowell story feel so real. As with her other stories (with the exception of Carry On), the inner turmoil and struggles with the characters is a major part of what drives the plot. Their ‘lack’ of perfectness is, for me, what sells the story.
There is an element of romance, but I felt that the story focused more on betrayal as a key theme. You see this through the relationships of Cath and Wren, Cath and their mother, Cath and Nick, Cath and Levi, Cath and her professor – the list seems endless, and for a while you kind of understand why she ends up dumping the whole university experience and going home. But Cath has more determination than she gives herself credit for, and she ends up turning it around.
Fangirl is not what I consider a timeless classic, like I think Eleanor and Park will be – it is great, but not brilliant. It is absolutely fun and easy to read though.