Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is a contemporary young adult novel and one of my favorite novels of all time. I read it for the first time on my kindle and then had to go out and get a physical copy. I own the pink collector’s edition version, but sometimes I’m tempted to go out and get the sea foam green cover because it is so pretty.
While I was writing this review, I thought this was a good excuse to read it again. Not that I really needed an excuse. I’m pretty sure I fell even more in love with this book if that’s even possible. I’m also the person who reads with the cover still on, so in torturing myself with the cover this time I decided to take it off. The blue foil coffee cup with Cath’s name on the front immediately made me think of gingerbread lattes.
Cath is hands down one of my top 5 favorite characters. She is a great flawed character, so very human. I guess that’s what makes her so relateable to me. She goes through things that people struggle with everyday including dealing with anxiety and depression from multiple sources.
Sometimes I see myself a little too much in Cath, but that’s probably why I love her character so much. She isn’t perfect and she questions every decision even after she makes them.
She has to deal with the fact that Arthur does not always take care of himself. He drowns himself in work and sometimes the rest of life falls to the wayside. He also has admitted to driving himself to the mental hospital to help him multiple times. This causes Cath to worry about him far more than anyone else.
Cath is a fan fiction author for her favorite fandom Simon Snow which is basically a Harry Potter/Chosen One trope series of books. She used to write with her sister, but college changes everything for her. Her sister does not want to room with her and she makes fun of Cath and her writing. So Cath has to deal with a sister basically leaving her and what she loves behind.
It is there that she meets her roommate Reagan and her “boyfriend” Levi both of them upperclassmen. At first she doesn’t know how to deal with either of them. Eventually, Reagan takes her under her wing especially after learning that Cath has for the most part only living on protein bars because she doesn’t know where the dining hall is. It is there that they bond over people watching and giving them backstories.
With Levi, they get together eventually and I honestly live for this couple. He mentions that he had liked her for a long time and that is why he was hanging around the room so much. He would walk to the library to walk her back at midnight so she didn’t have to have 911 ready on her phone as she ran back to her dorm. The truck stop scene is one of my favorite of there’s besides the ones where he let’s Cath be herself.
Levi allows Cath to talk freely about what she loves and doesn’t make fun of her for it. He even let’s her read her stories aloud for him. No only that but she helps him out by reading a whole book for him for a quiz the next day after Reagan bails on him. This leads to their first kiss but they don’t get together right away. Levi and Cath mess things up and I love that it is not perfect. It’s not fall in love and that’s it.
Another one of my favorite scene’s in the book was when after Levi gives Cath half a banana at the hospital and she tells him she’d give him the moon. Levi shoots back with a line saying but would she slay it for him. That’s how much Levi gets her and it was beautiful. There are many more scenes between the two of them I love that there is too many to count.
She also has to deal with a professor who doesn’t understand fan fiction and almost hates it with her whole being. So much that she fails Cath on one of her assignments. She does have some redeeming qualities with the faith she still has in Cath. She can see Cath’s influence in Nick’s work and gives her another semester to finish her final story.
The best part of this is that Rainbow Rowell actually published Carry On as it’s own novel. Check it out and see how many similarities you can hilariously find to Harry. It involves two characters, Simon and Baz, and their slight star-crossed love that actually ends okay.
Wren is the stereotypical college freshman experience wrapped up in a toxic situation. She wants to separate herself from her old self including her twin and father. When it comes to their mother at one point Wren was blaming all of their issues on her father and Cath. There is a line that Cath says to Wren about how she’d rather be broken than wasted and then tells her where her mother can go.
Sometimes I still get angry at her mother and to some extent her sister when I read the book. They have no regard for how their actions effect others and that something that I am not okay with. Their mother, Laura, walked out on the girls when they were nine and appeared back in their lives suddenly. To Cath this is not okay, but Wren allows her to wriggle into her life.
Laura didn’t know she was having twins and decided she didn’t want to come up with another name. So she took the name Catherine and changed it into Cather and Wren. This shows what kind of mother she is retrospectively. Especially when she leaves before seeing Wren in the hospital even though she was the first one there. Cath tells her to try harder and Laura walks out.
Characters I forgot existed: Abel and Nick. I honestly didn’t remember that Cath had a “boyfriend” in the beginning. Abel breaks up with her, after coming to the conclusion that they weren’t really dating and he had met someone else, and then wants to be friends. Of course Cath didn’t follow along with that idea.
Nick is also another character I forgot about. He was her writing partner and at first it seemed like this would be a dream partnership. Until he decides that he wants to take the story they had worked onto together and turn it in for himself. That is the last we see of him until the end of the book where he wants Cath to credit herself to the story because that is the only way it will be published in the school’s literary journal. The answer is obviously no.
This book shows Cath through her ups and downs of starting in a new place with nothing to hold onto. She is able to get through it even as she is dealing with something inside of her telling her she can’t. It’s a sentiment that most people can relate too.
So if you couldn’t tell by this long post, I would rate this book 5/5 stars. I loved it the first time I read it and I loved it when I read it again for the third time. So let me know what you thought of this book if you read it.
What’s your favorite standalone book of all time? See you Saturday for another post.