I love Young Adult novels. There, I said it. I’m 20 years old and I feel giddy when I read about simplistic relationship standards. Maybe it’s the mixture of realistic and unrealistic that keeps me enchanted, or the simple language that lets me get lost in 114 pages in one hour, but Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell captured everything I love about Y/A.
During my sophomore year of high school (circa 2014), Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell rampaged through the Y/A universe. E v e r y o n e was reading about the red-haired girl and her Asian love interest. Of course, I fell in love with it. Rowell has an easy writing style, very similar to Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
trilogy. Short sentences and facile words; I could swim through her sentences and feel like I wasn’t missing a beat. My love for Eleanor & Park led me to her other books, including Fangirl.
And did I love Fangirl. I still love that freaking book.
Cather Avery is in no way, shape, or form anything like me besides that we both like to read fanfiction. (One Direction got me. I was a pubescent in 2012, let me be.) Not just fanfiction, but gay fanfiction. Between two characters who are never going to end up together, but in our hearts, there’s no one better suited for the other. Fangirl is about Cath’s transition to college and trying to handle the adult world while still holding onto the biggest part of her youth: Simon and Baz from the Simon Snow series. The book begins with Cath moving into her dorm and meeting her roommate’s boyfriend. From there, Rowell jumps right in. You meet Cath quickly, her personality filtering into you as you read. That’s one thing I love about Rowell’s writing style; she molds characters into who they’re supposed to be. They’re distinguishable, they’re relatable, and best of all, they’re quirky. I love me some quirk.
The story is fairly long, but I got so lost in the story while reading, I lost track of page numbers. I would sit down at 10:30 p.m. to read, and the next thing I knew, it was 1 a.m. and I had just read through close to 200 pages. I was sucked into Cather Avery’s world and I honestly didn’t mind. Cath is unique; she is nerdy and emotional and nervous, three things I try to suppress. She allows herself to let it out and I love that about her. Not only that, Cath is real. She understands when things aren’t right and she feels bad when she does things wrong, even if they aren’t actually wrong. Like making out with her roommate’s boyfriend who isn’t actually her boyfriend but turns into Cath’s boyfriend. Ugh, the innocence.
Of course, this book is filled with fantasies. You don’t get a 100% realistic experience in any Y/A novel, especially written by one who is not the age of the main character. Life is better with fantasies, so reading all the cheesy lines exchanged between Cath and Levi made my heart flutter instead of repulse. The innocence is breathtaking. I know for a fact life is anything but innocent, but to read about it and feel it through the life of another, it’s nice.
Reading Y/A, in my opinion, is to live vicariously through the characters as they journey through their almost-perfect lives. Cath is awkward and adjusting horribly to college life, but she finds a writing partner who bounces off her writing as if they are two waves in the same tide. He ends up fucking her over, of course, but it brings back her twin sister who had abandoned her. Another bad thing in her life: her twin, best friend, soulmate abandoned her as soon as college started. This was a big deal considering they did everything together. Even shared a room until college. Imagine no privacy ever. Ew.
Cath struggles a lot. She struggles with being social, she struggles with adult things, she struggles with Wren (her twin sister) contacting their estranged mother again, and she struggles with feelings for boys. She is the conductor of the struggle bus, and reading her journey makes you feel sad for her but also root for her. That’s why I love Cath so much; she’s a fighter, no matter how quirky or awkward she is. And life molds around her, no matter how much she tries to mold herself around it. My advice to Cath Avery would be to just let it happen. Life sucks, but it’s also so good. Just like Y/A novels. Say all you want about them, I will agree many are naïvely terrible, but too many are innocently amazing, like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Fall in love with Cather Avery like I did and read this book.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars