Review of Fangirl

by Rainbow Rowell
High School     St. Martin’s Griffin     438 pp.
9/13     978-1-250-03095-5     $18.99
e-book ed. 978-1-250-03096-2     $9.99

College freshman Cather Avery is resistant to big life changes such as moving away from home and leaving her childhood behind. With identical twin sister Wren eager for more independence, Cath holes up in her dorm room, writing on her own the fanfiction they used to create together about the Harry Potter–esque Simon Snow books: “It felt good…to get lost in the World of Mages and stay lost…This was why Cath wrote fic. For these hours when their world supplanted the real world.” But as Cath’s first year progresses, she is continually pushed outside her comfort zone: by her snarky roommate, Reagan; by Levi, Reagan’s ex-boyfriend with the smiles and floppy hair (and eventually Cath’s first love interest); by her fiction-writing professor; by her manic but well-meaning father; and even by her estranged mother. While the fanfiction and first-love story lines are important, this is first and foremost Cath’s coming-of-age story. She is a teenager overcoming numerous insecurities and learning to balance family and school responsibilities with her writing and romantic interests in order to discover what truly matters in her life. As she did in Eleanor & Park (rev. 5/13), Rowell creates a refined narrative style that transitions seamlessly between Cath’s strong interior voice and clever dialogue to fully develop Cath’s complex personality. Between chapters, Rowell incorporates scenes from both the Simon Snow series and Cath’s fanfiction, further connecting readers to Cath’s literature-centric world. This sophisticated novel from  a talented writer will captivate nerds, romantics, and book lovers alike.

From the November/December 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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