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Fangirl: A Novel Hardcover – September 10, 2013
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Rainbow Rowell's Playlist
Fangirl is a coming-of-age novel that is smart, funny, and genuine. Fangirl takes place during Cather Avery's first year of college, learning who she is when stripped down to just Cath--not the twins Cath & Wren and not Magicath, her fan fiction pen name.
Through all the changes, both difficult and thrilling, one part of her old life still makes as much sense in her dorm room as it did in her childhood bedroom--the Emergency Kanye Party. When the going gets tough in this story, the tough crank up Kanye West, sing out loud and dance until they feel better. Check out Rowell's Fangirl playlist below to see what other music played a part in this story.
"I Wonder" – Kanye West: So Cath, the main character of Fangirl has a Kanye West thing; he's sort of her Patronus. This song lays out how lost Cath is at the beginning of the book. "You ever wonder what it all really mean? You wonder if you'll ever find your dreams?"
"Cath" – Death Cab for Cutie: I think this song might be the reason I chose the name "Cath." The lyrics don't fit my Cath, but the feelings do. More loss, more lost.
"Heaven's on Fire" – The Radio Dept.: I use songs to help me get into the right mood and frame of mind when I'm writing a scene. This song, for me, is Cath's first few weeks of college – when she feels all caught up, and completely overwhelmed, by the activity. When she's overdosing on new and other.
"Paranoid" – Kanye West feat. Mr. Hudson: When things hit bottom for Cath, she throws herself an Emergency Kanye Dance Party. I can see her jumping on her bed to this song. "You worry bout the wrong things, the wrong things."
"American Boy" – Estelle feat. Kanye West: Required listening for every Emergency Kanye Dance Party. Plus, it's happy and bouncy, so that reminds me of Cath's friend Levi, who joins the party.
"Brandy Alexander" – Feist: When Cath finally falls in love, she almost resents how easy it is. She resents that she can't help it. This song is so sweet and seductive and irresistible – which is exactly how Cath sees the guy she's falling for.
"I See You, You See Me" – The Magic Numbers: This is another reluctant love song – about two people who sort of back into love. When it gets to "This is not what I'm like, this is not what I do" – I think of Cath and the way she tries to reject her feelings. Like she's allergic to them.
"Love Letters" – Jude: There's a part of the book when just about everybody regrets their behavior. "Love Letters" feels like regret to me – but also hope. There's so much longing in Jude's voice.
"Samson" – Regina Spektor: One of the love stories in the book is between Cath and her twin sister, Wren. Cath feels abandoned by Wren. Now that they're at college, Wren would rather party than hang out with her twin. But Cath is still so devoted to Wren, and worried about her. "You are my sweetest downfall. I loved you first."
"Landslide" – Fleetwood Mac: Every book I write has "Landslide" on its soundtrack, and always at the same point in the story – the part where the main character does whatever he or she has to do to grow and change. I play "Landslide" in my head whenever my life is changing in a big way.
"Hymn for Her" – The Magic Numbers: This is my happy-ending song for Cath. I'm not exactly sure what the lyrics mean, but I love how gentle and cautious it is, especially at the beginning. It's so reassuring for a love song. "It won't hurt to find love in the wrong place. I've been hurt before, but all the scars have rearranged."
Best Books of the Month: Teen & Young Adult, September 2013: At first glance Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl has a lot in common with Eleanor & Park: idiosyncratic girl with troubled family meets good, normal boy and falls in love for the first time. But this is why Rowell is so talented--from the same basic ingredients she can create something new and special. In Fangirl, quirky introvert, Cath, is safe within the immensely popular Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) fan-fiction blog she writes with her twin sister, but college turns her life upside down, leaving her feeling like an awkward outsider. When she writes, Cath knows exactly what her characters should say to each other, but when it comes to forging real-life friendships, much less a romance, she hasn’t a clue. An immensely satisfying coming-of-age novel, Fangirl deftly captures the experience of discovering your true voice and clumsy, vulnerable, remarkable, first love. --Seira Wilson
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I absolutely adore this book. This is the third time I've read it and each time I find something new to love.
Levi. Levi, Levi, Levi. I'm pretty sure this man is damn near perfect. He's kind, fun, happy, and sincere. These aren't the typical words I use when describing male characters, but Levi is special. He's everything I hope my daughters find in a guy (I'd say he's everything I would love to find, but I found my special someone so the his ship has sailed).
I love this story--obviously, it's my third time reading it. I love the slow dance between Cather and Levi. I love how good they are together, even before they're together. I love snarky Reagan, Cath's dad, and Wren. I just love it all.
This is a story I will continue to read again and again. This once per year thing is working pretty well and I'm going to keep that going.
I did listen to this book instead of reading it this go 'round and I have to say the narrator is perfect for the voice of Cather. She seems to really understand the story and how Cather is feeling. And then there's the voice of Simon and Baz. I think it's cool that these sections are narrated by someone else. The story flows very smoothly and I'll definitely listen again.
Levi. Because he's more than just...
Cath was by far one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever seen. As an introvert myself, I see myself in Cath as she gets lost in her writings and struggles with the truth of whether or not fanfiction is plagiarism. Levi is one of those fictional characters who you instantly swoon over. He isn’t the most popular guy on the college campus, but he’s got an incredible personality. Rowell describes him as someone who is always smiling and that his presence alone instantly lights up a room. Another character I loved was Cath’s roommate Reagan. I love that she bonds with Cath at the dining hall by judging everyone who walks by. She’s a sassy and memorable secondary character. Wren is a character who you gradually warm up to, it’s obvious that she loves her twin sister, sometimes she just needs a break. I loved the twins dad, he had a great deal of wit about him and I appreciated all of the pop culture references.
The romance between Cath and Levi happens at a realistic speed. The two begin as friends then it slowly but surely turns into more. I honestly didn’t completely see it coming since it built so much, I could barely even tell that he liked Cath. I like the pairing between them since they are totally different people. Like they always say, opposites attract and you don’t get more opposite than Cath and Levi.
This book is an enjoyable read that you won’t want to end. It’s safe to say that I wish the story of Cath and Levi didn’t end here. I think that anyone could read and love this book, but I think that nerdy teen girls could probably relate to it the best. If you’re like me and haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Review originally posted on my blog Go Read A Book:
Now there are three distinct voices that I want to reference here. Each one took something else from the novel, and each was looking for something different.
Voice A is the fan scholar who was seeking out a fictitious representation of fan communities and fic culture, and how it impacted the life of the protagonist. Voice A has been studying fandom for over a decade and has written and lectured extensively on the subject, which is near and dear to him. Voice A was not happy. Yes this book deals with a girl who writes fanfic, and who wants to be a writer after college. But the fanfic seems more like a plot device than anything meaningful. There were times when Voice A wanted to know MORE about Cath's fan experience: what about the online friends she keeps referencing, what about the fan culture she navigates through (which she says can sometimes be harsh to her), what about balancing her own voice with that of her alto ego Magicath, what about the comments to her stories or the stress of being labeled a "super fan", how does she engage with all of that fandom complexity... There were a few moments where this came out, but by and large, the fanfic Carry On Simon Snow was a method by which Rowell advanced the plot, and for Voice A the Fan Scholar, this was a let down. There was so much potential plot to be explored there, and in the end, the "fangirl" was less a fan, more a girl.
Voice B is the reader seeking a satisfying story that wraps itself up well and gives her characters to care about. Voice B was happy, with some caveats. Cath is a great protagonist, even if she's a bit "too perfect" for the role. Not Mary Sue levels of perfect, but she fits into the role of the awkward teenage fan author too well. Almost like she's conforming to the part- a cookie cutter voice as it is. She cries too much, is too insecure, and reacts exactly as you would expect a "special snowflake" to act. Were her voice and actions not so excellently written, she would BE a self-insert Mary Sue Special Snowflake, and that was always in the back on Voice B's mind while reading. Thankfully, she also has a supporting cast who help distract from those MSSS moments- Reagan is also cookie cutter, but too awesome to matter; Levi is…well, I personally don't like him, but thats because his character is really well done and I find his "type" off putting; Wren…yeah, ya know, everyone in this book is cookie cutter. All templates. Thankfully, Rowell does wonders with them, and you hardly care. That said, the plot ends abruptly, and doesn't give Voice B the resolution she wanted, but wasn't so jarring as to break the story for her.
Voice C wanted to be entertained. And Voice C was beyond happy. Seriously, Rowell is delightful- she has a way with prose and dialog that makes you want to keep reading until you can't anymore. Quite ironically, the last author who I could say that about was JK Rowling, whom Rowell is pretty much copying with her Simon Snow metaplot. And Fangirl was one of those books I could not put down. Yeah it lacked a concrete identity. yeah it was less about fandom and more slice of life than I wanted. Yeah the romance was sorta blah. Yeah, it read more like a teen novel than any teen novel I've ever read. But in the end, it was solid and addictive enough that I blasted through it in two days without looking back. And that made it worth the experience.
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For Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it.Read more