Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl is a wonderful, witty, warm-hearted YA novel that deals with the transition to college, and all that comes along with it, in a beautifully honest way. Twins Cath and Wren both have very different perspectives on college life; Cath, who suffers from anxiety and doesn’t deal well with new situations and new people, isn’t looking forward to the change, and Wren, outgoing and sociable, embraces the change completely and decides that it would be better for both of the twins if they stopped spending so much time together, much to Cath’s dismay.
Cath and Wren have spent their whole lives sharing a bedroom, sharing clothes, sharing everything. When they discovered the magical, fictional world of Simon Snow, they even wrote fanfiction together. Now, as they begin their first year at university, Wren has more interest in going to parties and getting drunk, while Cath still immerses herself in her fanfiction. Suffering from anxiety attacks frequently and constantly worrying about Wren and her father, Cath slowly begins to come out of her shell thanks to her roommate Reagan and her friend Levi.
When I first saw the blurb for Fangirl, I was expecting it to give an inaccurate account of Cath, a nerd with anxiety; I was expecting a slightly cringey, obsessive girl who thought she was better than other girls with different interests. Instead, Cath, a nerd with anxiety, was depicted as human, someone who was very much a fangirl, but had other interests, who learned to live and deal with her social anxiety and begin to take risks with her writing. Cath and Wren represent two types of people beginning college; the shy, quiet, type who doesn’t much like parties, and the outgoing, sociable type who loves them. What I love about Fangirl is that it doesn’t ridicule or judge either of these; instead, Rowell warns of what can happen when either of these two lifestyles are taken to extremes, and tells the importance of having people around who you can lean on.
Fangirl is full of warm, witty and memorable characters that help show all the complications of the move to college life. As Cath and Wren face hurdles involving relationships, family life, the fickleness and strength of friendships, and various assignments, they learn about themselves and each other than they thought possible.