ROWELL, Rainbow. Fangirl. 416p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Sept. 2013. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-1-250-03095-5; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-250-03096-2.
Gr 9 Up–This charming coming-of-age novel tells the story of a painfully shy teen who prefers the fantasy world of fanfiction to reality. Cath expected to survive her first year of college with the help of her twin sister. Wren, however, is taking full advantage of her newfound freedom from parental supervision, spending a great deal of time partying and very little time with her needy, nerdy, slightly pathetic sister. Feeling lost and alone, Cath scurries from class to class, hiding in her room and working on her Simon Snow fanfiction omnibus. When she writes, she can escape herself and be somewhere else. Otherwise she’s just another social misfit stuck with a surly roommate, her roommate’s overly friendly, kinda cute boyfriend (who might also be flirting with Cath), and a family that’s falling apart. Sometimes, however, real life can become better than fantasy. Even if getting there feels like an epic battle. Cath is an exceptionally well-developed, self-aware, and endearing character, partly because she is so quirky and flawed. There are also great secondary characters, but because Cath doesn’t want to get involved in the messiness of their lives, readers are also kept from knowing them more fully. The plot is multilayered and filled with complex subjects (such as divorce, abandonment, and mental illness) handled in a realistic manner, and the writing effortlessly and seamlessly weaves these threads together. This book will find a wide audience, especially among older fans of Harry Potter.–Heather E. Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL