Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl

"Use Grammarly for proof reading because it's the new sexy!"




Now, for my review.

By Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Griffin
USA 2013

Fangirl is about Cather's adventures of her first year in college. Hers is not the wham-bam kind of adventure a freshman student in college experiences, but with Rowell's nuanced writing style, Cather's story is a wham-bam reading experience. You won't be reading about frat parties in this New Adult novel. Sex is kept at the minimum. And, almost all of Cather's family members and friends suffer from the normal neuroses.

Since this is my second Rainbow Rowell book, I declare that I favor this more than Eleanor and Park. OK. Eleanor and Park has its own charm, but Fangirl rubbed me the right way in all the right places. I felt the book was written for me.

What worked

Rowell started the novel with this sentence: There was a boy in her room.


One line and it speaks volumes. Who is this boy? How will this boy figure out in the novel? What has he to do with the protagonist who is definitely female. By reading between the lines, I knew right then and there that the female lead is an introvert.

Cather, super nerd and twin sister to Wren is walking on a borderline. She is not ready to change, but circumstances push her to do so. Life in university has proven to be a challenge. She must give up or finish off a fanfiction novel and start writing pieces that truly speak about who she really is. At home, her dad suffered a meltdown and it did not help that her sister is an alcoholic in denial. Through it all, it was the boy she found in her room that saved her from crashing and burning.

Levi, the boy in her room, is not your perfect male lead. He is described as nearly balding, lanky and has been dumped by his best friend turned girlfriend who happened to be Cather's roommate too. Complicated? Not so. It's just the way of the world. Cather finds all this as awkward though. She trudges on despite her discomfort and slowly grows into her own person.

A lot of the pain that Cather went through, she has kept in an internal, almost quiet manner until the appearance of her mother, estranged from her and her twin for years, to reconnect with her and Wren. That's when her real emotions surfaced. Rowell knows restraint. And I love her for using this as a plot strategy in the novel. She also made reading a book look so seductive and intimately alluring. Her use of fanfiction in the novel as a medium to hide one's self, likewise, as a platform for self discovery, is a clever literary technique.

What did not work

While Cath and Wren discovered who their true friends are, both ended up with two nice guys on campus. We know it's not always like that. But, I'm a mom and I want my daughter to end up with the nice guy in campus - the kind who won't shrink in front of my husband when daughter brings him home to meet the 'rents.

This is a small thing and can be overlooked given the genre of Fangirl. So, overall, I'm giving the book four and a half bookmarks!

On to my next Rowell novel: Attachments.

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