Saturday, February 01, 2014

College Coming-of-Age Story Funny, Authentic (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

There's one man who's always been there for Cather Avery:  Simon Snow.  Through her mother's desertion, through her father's bi-polar mood swings, through drama with her twin sister, he's been by her side.  Simon's steady and devoted, so much so that the 18-year-old can't stop thinking, dreaming and obsessing about him.  The problem?  Simon's not real.  He's a fictional character, the leading man (well, boy) in a wildly popular children's series (think Harry Potter).  Cath is not his only fan, of course, but she might just be his best.  Through her fanfiction, which thousands of people read online, Simon lives on.  Cath's greatest pleasure in life comes from thinking up new adventures for her favorite book hero.  

Now that Cath's a freshman in college, though, she's a little torn over her infatuation with Simon.  She wants to fit in with the university crowd, but she also needs her book crush—however juvenile it may be—to get through the new stresses in her life.  And she's got lots:  Cath's twin sister, Wren (get it?  Cather + Wren = Catherine), has declared her independence, moving into a completely different dorm and leaving Cath on her own; Cath's roommate leaves plenty to desire, as does her always-around boyfriend; her English professor isn't as wowed by fanfiction as Cath hoped she would be; and, to top it off, Cath's worried about her father, whose fragile psyche seems ready to shatter.  Since all Cath does is sit in her dorm room studying, worrying, and thinking up new Simon stories, she wonders why she ever left home in the first place.  She's clearly not cut out for living in the "real" world among live people whom she can't edit into perfection.

As Cath rides the ups and downs that college brings, she has to ask herself the big questions:  Can she live her own life, one that doesn't include Wren holding her hand through every hardship?  Does she even want to?  And can she give up Simon Snow in order to enjoy "real" life?  Even if it means opening herself up to the possible disasters that could come from a romance with a guy who lives outside the pages of her imagination?  Who would even want that?  Maybe, just maybe, Cath does.  

There are so many things I love about Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  The well-rounded characters, the crackling dialogue, the bookish plot, the virtual world vs. real world dilemma, the sister conflict—all of it sucked me right in and kept me turning page after page after page.  I adored Cath in all her nerdy glory.  She's a girl after my own heart, the kind of character who, surprisingly, doesn't turn up in fiction all that much.  I admire Rowell for writing Cath in a way that makes her good girl tendencies (she cares more about grades than guys, more about papers than parties, etc.) admirable, even cool.  Cath just comes off as very authentic.  Geeky, but real.  Now, of course, there were parts of Fangirl I could have done without—the swearing, Simon's gay romance, etc.  The book's edgier than I thought it would be, definitely more new adult than young adult.  Overall, though, I enjoyed this unique, funny, well-written, coming-of-age novel.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:  


for strong language, sexual innuendo/mild sexual content (including homosexuality), and depictions of underage drinking/partying

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Fangirl from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  
      
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Interested in getting your hands on Fangirl?  You've come to the right place.  I'm giving away my gently-used (it's been read once and is in almost perfect condition), hardback copy of the book.  To win, all you have to do is comment on this post.  I won't even make you answer a silly question this time, so entering is about as easy peasy as it could possibly be!  Please do include an email address so that I have a way to contact you if you win.  I'll choose a winner (well, Random.org will do the picking) on February 15, so entries must be in by midnight on the 14th.  You need to have a U.S. or Canadian mailing address in order to be eligible for the giveaway.  Good luck!

14 comments:

  1. I adored this book so much. I think a lot of bookish people can relate to Cath, even if the things she goes through are a bit more extreme. :) I love that you used this for your Mormon mention, too. That part gave me a good laugh.

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  2. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed this book! I read it in December and fell in love with it!

    silverarrowknits at gmail dot com

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  3. I really enjoyed "Fangirl," it took me right back to my high school and university days as an obsessive Lord of the Rings fangirl. Glad you liked it.

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  4. I love this book so much. I think that Rainbow Rowell is such a great storyteller.

    aphanord@hotmail.com

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  5. Wonderful review; you've given me a great snapshot of the book and the main character without giving away any spoilers. I am so eager to read Fangirl! The more I hear about it, the more I want to read it. As a bookworm and a Harry Potter fan, and as a "good girl" who cared a lot about making good grades (though not as much as Cath, since I didn't always manage it!), there's a lot here I can relate to -- even 30 years after college.

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  6. Ohhhhh... sounds like a great book! Love your recommendations!!! abosen at cox dot net

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  7. I was surprised by how much I really liked this one. Cath is such a unique character in YA (at least the YA I read)

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  8. Oh yes, I really am excited about this book. I haven't read it yet, but I have read her other works and she is lovely. Also, lets be real here, a book called Fangirl? Dude, you know I'm going to be able to relate. Anyway, lovely giveaway!
    XO, Kristi

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  9. Oops! Didn't put an email, Sorry! D:
    fishtwin96@gmail.com
    XO, Kristi

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  10. This one is at the top of my list to read. If I could just get my hands on a copy...hint, hint :) Love your reviews, keep 'em coming!

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  11. Oops, here's the email...imautahgirl@gmail.com!
    Amy

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  12. I loved Eleanor & Park, but haven't read this one yet!

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  13. I've been wanting to read this book!

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  14. Thank you so much for the book! I am really looking forward to reading it... hopefully soon.

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