When I recently told someone about Rainbow Rowell, she asked, “Is that her real name?” My coworkers said that it’s a good thing she wanted to pursue an artistic career and not, like, be a stock broker. Admittedly her name is almost too quirky to be true, but it fits her writing style: offbeat, heartfelt, and a tad whimsical. And yes, it’s real.
Rainbow Rowell managed to release two young adult novels this year. I’ve written a bit about Eleanor and Park, although the book deserves more than a one-paragraph review. I was beyond excited when I found out that Fangirl was coming out this September.
The synopsis only added to my anticipation. Cath is an identical twin and a dedicated fan of the Simon Snow book series. As they start college, her sister Wren wants to break away from the Simon Snow fandom and maybe even from Cath. That leaves Cath on her own to complete an epic work of fan fiction, while dealing with her surly new roommate and her first fiction writing class.
I knew that Fangirl would be a fun read, but I didn’t expect to feel so passionate about it. Of course, my personal background made it easy to identify with Cath. My first year of college was a tough transition, and I was quite involved with the Harry Potter fandom during my early teens. Simon Snow is a great spoof of Harry Potter without trying to exactly replicate it character-for-character. Not everyone will be able to relate to Cath so directly, but I hope that many can appreciate her. And I hope that those who can relate will find this book.
Few authors would have the courage to write about someone like Cath. She’s genuinely a nerd, not a hot girl hiding behind glasses, which makes her feel absolutely real. If anyone is the voice of misfits, it’s Rainbow Rowell. She approaches her characters with such love, and she isn’t afraid to share their full range of emotions, however mushy or neurotic. And because she cares so much, so do I. When something bad happens to her characters, I want to curl up in a ball and hide. How often does a book truly make you feel that way? I mean it as the highest compliment.
Rainbow Rowell is also very active on Tumblr. She loves Harry Potter and Sherlock, and I basically just want her to be my friend. Appropriately enough, Fangirl was chosen as the first selection for Tumblr’s Reblog Book Club. In the land of the fangirls, this book should find many enthusiastic readers. It’s rare to find an author who belongs on your favorites shelf, but Rainbow Rowell has already taken her place on mine.