FICTION

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.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarGr 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
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. cynthia k. ritter

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