Rainbow Rowell is a writer who lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons. She writes about both adults and teenagers. Her books include: Eleanor & Park, Attachments, Landline, Carry On, and Kindred Spirits. Despite these different perspectives the two have one thing in common, the characters are people who talk a lot, people who fall in love and people who feel like they’re screwing up. In other words, she writes about people we as readers feel like we can relate to and see a little bit of ourselves in their personality and behaviour. When Rowell isn’t writing, she spends her time reading comic books, planning trips to Disney World and arguing about things she feels don’t matter in the grand scheme of things in life.
Today I’m going to recommend her 2011 novel, Fangirl. Before I go into why I think this book would not only interest you, but also give you insight into University life- yes, I’m aware there is a difference in the University experience in the UK and US but you’ll understand what I mean soon enough; I’ll give you an outline of what the book is about. Fangirl tells the story of Cath. Like the rest of the world she’s a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath being a fan is literally her life, she and her twin sister Wren spent years reading, rereading, hanging out on Simon Snow forums, reading and writing fanfiction and dressing up as the characters for every film premier; Wren’s mostly grown out of the world of Snow fandom but Cath can’t seem to let go, after all it’s the only thing that helped when their mother left. Now that they’re going to college, Wren told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, out of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words and to top it off she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath the most important question is: can she do this, this notion of living on your own, writing your own story, getting through university by herself?
I suppose from the plot alone you can see why I chose this book to discuss today, after all it gives an idea of what a big change University is. However, aside from the story line, the other reason why I’m recommending this book is because of Cath herself. She’s the kind of person that tends to keep to herself and whilst reading the book I think you’ll find a little of yourself in her, or at least you will when starting University. Cath starts off staying in her room, eating snacks in her room alone, spending nights on the internet and writing fanfiction, not interacting with people outside her classes, being as anti-social as possible for a month. Thankfully throughout the course of the book, that changes. Yes, she still writes fanfiction but she also makes friends and grows as a person along the way. Part of the reason why I like Cath is because I see myself in her (in the sense I’m shy and spend a lot of time online), but the other aspect of her character is the lesson she teaches us, along with those around her. Her character is a reminder that when you move into your new accommodation don’t be afraid to break the ice, try and interact with others, but also work hard and keep doing what you enjoy along the way. You don’t have to be a hard-core party person to have fun, that, as you’ll learn, both in life and in the book comes with consequences. Cath teaches you how University can be the best years of your life, enjoy it, don’t waste it. Overall Fangirl is a coming of age tale that I feel is worth a read.