There is a certain kinship one feels with a book written about a place you know. When I heard Rainbow Rowell was writing a book set at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, my own alma mater, I was excited to see what she would do with the story and what places I would know.
Never did I imagine it would be the characters and the experience of being a college freshman that would ring as true as the setting.
Introvert Cath is stunned when her twin sister decides she’d rather not be her roommate as they start school, throwing Cath into the turbulent waters of the roommate pool. She is matched with rough-edged Reagan and Levi, the guy always in their room. (Note: you might see Levi in a future fictional boyfriend post!)
Cath is a fish out of water, usually preferring to stay in her own small pond. Except, however, when she is writing fanfiction for the epic fantasy series Simon Snow. Cath is real, and flawed, and little bit of all of us. She carries the weight of her father’s imbalanced mental health status and a fear of new experiences. Add in the gains and losses of being a twin and a freshman on a large campus, and you get a sense of Cath’s struggles.
While reading Fangirl, I was taken back to my own freshman year. I also felt like a fish out of water (for me it was coming from a tiny high school). I joined the marching band as a freshman, which gave me an immediate connection with dozens of people to nod at in passing or a group to eat with in one of the campus cafeterias (soft serve ice cream FOR THE WIN).
But what would have happened had I not tried out or made the band? Would I have quietly cultivated a small group of people to support me (like Cath ends up doing by the end of the book)? Or would I have sunk further and further into the wallpaper until I had disappeared?
I had the pleasure of attending the Fangirl launch party a few weeks ago and it left me with a renewed love for Young Adult literature. I loved seeing all the young adults there because Rainbow had established connections with them through her previous works and/or her social media presence. One of the most important things for teens–or anyone–is knowing and believing that you are not alone. Connecting with others through something: music, books, fanfiction is important part of a person’s well-being.
Throughout Fangirl Cath discovers who she has in her life while also conquering some of her own fears.
Leave a comment below by midnight CST on November 1, 2013 and I’ll put you in a drawing for a copy of Fangirlfor you or a friend. Even if you don’t win that, you will still be eligible for our monthly giveaway for a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Receive one entry for each blog post you comment on during the month. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on the last day of each month. Winners will be notified by email.