Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Book reviewfangirl

Title: fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: teen/ YA/ romance

Rating: *****

Review: I finished this last night. Late last night. Usually when I write a review, I write an outline, let it sit, and then go back after I’ve cogitated for a few days. Because this book is on sale right now, I don’t want you to miss the opportunity to read it because oh my gosh it’s amazing. So please forgive the somewhat abrupt tone of this review. I’m skipping the cogitation and attempting NOT to squee all over the place.

Cather (that’s her whole name, for reasons that are painfully revealed later in the story) Avery is a college freshman. Her identical twin, Wren, has announced that she doesn’t want to room with Cather at the university they’re attending in Nebraska, and has found a new roomie/bff in Courtney. Cather is miserable. She doesn’t want to leave their dad, who is mentally ill and alone now that his daughters are heading to college. The girls’ mother abandoned them in 3rd grade, and Cather hasn’t seen her since. She doesn’t want to start a new routine, live in a new place with someone she doesn’t know, and start a new daily life without any of the constants in her world.

Cath has some serious anxiety, and she knows it. In the beginning of the book, she has jars of peanut butter and protein bars under her bed because going to the school dining hall is terrifying. She doesn’t know where it is, or how to go through it, or what the rules are, and the anxiety of being in the way and not knowing what to do or where to go keeps Cath hungry and subsisting on what she’s got under the bed for a long while.

Cath not only has to deal with being a freshman at college, she also has to come to terms with her twin sister’s desire for independence from their twindom. I think you’ve nailed that awkward lurch towards independence that is freshman year. Excitement crossed with a little uncertainty and some bad decisions.

Cath and Co aren’t perfect. When she continues to argue her point about submitting her fanfic story for an original writing assignment with her professor, I wanted to pip up from the back of the office and say, “Don’t keep digging the hole any deeper.” and “No, you can’t submit true fanfic as an original work.” When Levi reminds Cath that she’s lucky her professor is giving her a second chance and Cath still shows a hint of sulk, I wanted to say, “this doesn’t happen in the real world after graduation.” Unfortunately, Wren’s battles with alcohol play out on college campuses each year. But then the sisters are still 18 and learning.

As for the actual reams of Simon Snow fanfic included in the story, it does show that Cath is a good author. Plus she reads it aloud to Levi it does serve as a kind of initial bonding experience between them but I did get tired of it. I wanted more of the real world and less of the “Simon Snow” world – more Cath, Wren, Levi and Cath’s wonderful roommate Reagan and less fanfic.

Cather’s anxiety and fears were almost three dimensional in this book. They were more than palpable. I remember that terror of not knowing what to do, or where to go, and knowing I had to figure out every step of every part of my routine out by myself. Cath expected to have Wren, but Wren is less and less interested in doing anything she used to do, including hanging out with Cath, and while their separation is excruciating for Cath, Wren appears not to be bothered at all.


It’s really difficult for me to explain how huge a role fanfic and writing play in Cath’s life. The story is from her point of view (deeply, but not first person) and her passion and drive to keep writing her version, her familiarity with the characters and her genuine love for them and for the world of the books are so powerful. In addition to the anxiety that she felt, Cath is also deeply, deeply lonely. She’s surrounded herself with incomplete people — characters, online acquaintances based on her fanfic, comments — and her sister was the only person who spanned both worlds. Without Wren, Cath feels most at ease when writing and adding to her story. But her fear of new situations and new people, her anxiety about situations, and her fear that, like her father and her mother there’s something deeply wrong with her, all compound to make her escape into fanfiction poignant and understandable, and also terribly lonely.

My one problem with the book is the end. So much that is so big is wrapped up so quickly, and seems too easy. Cath forgives some people so easily I was shocked – they’d treated her terribly, and it seemed that she was willing to forgive that so long as they’d be back in her life, a recognizable part of her stability and familiarity. But then, there are other people who treat Cath really really badly, who take advantage of her, and she serves them exactly what they deserve. For all her fears, Cath is not a doormat. That was my favorite thing about her, really. She can and does stand up for herself. She’s afraid, but she knows what she has to do, and she does it as best she can. She probably wouldn’t think of herself in that way, but sometimes she’s as fierce as Reagan and it’s awesome to read.


This book made all the emotional tingles and the sniffly reading and the big sighs happen for me as a reader. I so identified with Cath, with her loneliness and her fear and her determination and her becoming absorbed in other worlds and her fear that she wasn’t quite normal because she loved that world so much.

Buy it here:


Kindle Edition:

Audio Download:

Audio CD:

Also see:Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


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