For those of you who wear your burgundy and yellow striped scarves proudly as you try to subtlety step through brick walls just in case there’s a train station of wizardry and bald villains on the other side, this book is for you. I should have been waiting for someone to write this book, but I had no idea this was coming. A book about fan fiction and the girls who own busts of their favorite characters, who knew this would be so beautiful? If you ask me who my new favorite young adult author is, I will say Rainbow Rowell. This is her second hit in a row and I can only hope she’s penned at least three-quarters of the next book so I can get my grubby adult hands on it. But inside, I’m a teen who needs a heart throb. Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump. If there was a way to make words speed up in the head of the reader, those thumps would be beating out of water.
Come on, admit it, we’re all nerds here. When there’s a nerd contest at work, or my boyfriend and I are on a roadtrip and trying to out nerd each other at the halfway point, the fact that I own a “book blog” trumps all else. That and I made a reference to Yoda while reading an Emily Dickinson poem for my American Lit class discussion post. Yep, I think that kings all other kinds of nerd. How do you mix stuck-in-the-attic-female-poetry (Dickinson always was the real Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre) with one of the most epic characters in Star Wars? I don’t know, but somehow I did it. You have to admit she can sound like Yoda in some of her less famous poems. Anyway, NERD ALERT.
I feel like Rainbow Rowell exploits all of our inner nerds in Fangirl. Cath and Wren are twins, they are both killer nerds, but Wren has cloistered her nerd in between drinking bouts and arguments with her true self. Cath writes fan fiction about Simon Snow (which reminds me so much of Harry Potter and Twilight if they were blended together in some strange school of magic). Cath is shy and closets herself away in the dorm room with her angst-driven and I-can-only-imagine heavily eyelinered roommate. Cath is the twin that you cheer for for the entirety of the novel until you find the secrets of Wren’s inner struggle. Then there’s the library boy Cath meets to write with in the wee hours of “books come alive” evening. I won’t say much about him because I don’t really like him, I didn’t like him from the second he had thin lips and didn’t walk Cath home from the late night bookish seance. I can’t say much about Levi either because I will gush my brains out like a fourteen-year-old girl and that would completely ruin this book.
Let’s just say, he’s named after the world’s most famous jeans and he deserves all the glory of that mental image. You know, bare chested cowboy in tight horse-riding jeans. Yea, I’ll stop there. You get the point. He’s delicious and his personality is to die for which is exactly what Rainbow Rowell is great about. She writes the deepest young adult characters without making them kitschy. It’s really easy to make a character who writes fan fiction kitschy, but Cath was the heart of this reading. She was full of past, and real emotions that girls feel when they’re in college and on their own. Not to mention her family life wasn’t perfectly drawn into the white picket fence and she has a twin that’s known as the “hotter twin.” That’s also why it’s so easy to root for Cath because everyone loves an awkward girl that’s secretly written to be just like them.
I don’t write fanfiction, but I do write some dorky book reviews. I didn’t sit in my room alone the whole first year of college, but I did spend weeks at a time hibernating and avoiding people because I wasn’t sure how to make friends and my roommate was …. to put it nicely, intense. Sometimes it’s nice to live with a “character” and then you can use them in your writing. I haven’t yet, and that would probably create a terrifying short story so maybe I won’t touch that kind of damage.
Let me get back to the book at play.
I did not want this book to end. I wanted to hear that the romance was continued and everyone has beautiful babies and white-picket-fenced their life and owned cows somewhere in the distance. I wanted the full painting. What were they like when they were ninety. Did the twins still dress the same. Was Carry On (Cath’s fan fiction title) ever finished, and if so did Simon ever have a make-out session with his vampire lover? I mean, can we get a life story here, Rainbow Rowell. How about you make this a series and you write a book for every twenty years of their life? Am I asking too much? I think not. Write, write, write until you’re not sure what is fan fiction or what is the book. Maybe I can just search the interwebs and someone has written fan fiction about Fangirl and I can read them into oblivion where the couples are madly in love and mothers stick it out and men who are in advertising don’t have to hit rock bottom in order to sell a campaign.
Fangirl is a fabulous book and you can tell that Rainbow Rowell really researched the art of fan fiction. I hope she found some of her own out there in the interwebs. Hell, if I had thought of it, I would be writing fan fic about Eleanor and Park and their future babies. I felt while reading this that Rowell was an author that deserves all her young adult fame and fortune. She writes like she knows the people in her books, hiding them in purse pockets while she does weekly errands. Maybe they lose socks in her laundry, jump out of the pocket when she enters the house and skip around the hardwood. I’m sure they play with her baby before its afternoon nap. I believe writers like Rowell had characters just hanging from their mobiles when they were staring up at the white ceiling. She must have found couples laughing and girls turned to the closet, hands crossed against their chest in disgust or chill.