In all my years of reading, I can’t recall coming across a character that was as relatable to me as Cath Avery was. It was eerie. The fan fiction. The social anxiety. The awkwardness. All me.
You always read reviews where critics praise authors for writing real and relatable protagonists, but I have never connected on this level before.
During high school, I spent more time writing fan fiction than anything else. During class I’d write it, in between classes I’d write it, at 3am I’d write it. So seeing a character in a book (an actual popular and published book) with the same obsession was a new experience to me. Over the past five or so years, fan fiction has become more ‘mainstream’, a bit more socially acceptable and a bit more widely known. Ten years ago at my fan fiction prime it was considered weird and a waste of time, so I did on my own with no one but online friends to support and encourage me.
Fangirl felt real. The college experience was painfully awkward. Making friends was painfully awkward. Rainbow Rowell managed to take a common milestone for a person’s life and bring it to life a fresh way.
The main criticism I have seen for Fangirl is that Cath is forced to change herself to fit in with the social norms, but I couldn’t disagree more! She stayed true to herself and what was most important to her.
As a socially awkward person who stands in the corner by herself and plays with the cat at the rare party I attend, I can attest that I am also an awesome, loud, and hilarious person. But only if I find the right friends who allow me to open up. Cath found those people, she was able to let herself get comfortable. She didn’t change herself, she still wrote fanfiction, she still obsessed over Simon Snow, and she still preferred to write alone in the dark at 3am.
I loved this book. It may even be one of my favourites of 2015.