Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Author of the award winning novel, Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell puts a twist on a coming of age story about first love. Cath and her twin sister Wren love the Simon Snow series and they love writing fan fiction about two characters, Simon and Baz even more. Writing fan fiction helped them through their mother leaving and their father's depression and anxiety, making fan fiction Cath's life and her first love. When Cath and Wren move away from their safe and sheltered home to their first year at college, Wren drifts away from Cath and the fandom. Cath must choose to either learn to exist outside her comfort zone alone to make a life for herself in college, or to continue writing her widely popular fan fiction, Carry On, Simon as the release date of the final book in the Simon Snow series draws closer.

As an occasional fangirl I can relate to this book on a personal level. One strength of this novel is that it is relatable to teens and young adults by capturing the emotions and the experiences of what a fangirl or fanboy goes through of their favorite series while dealing with reality. Rainbow uses the Simon Snow series as the series to base Cath's fangirling over and this is very relatable because she based this series and the fandom that surrounded it off of the Harry Potter series (interview with Rowell). People who have read and watched Harry Potter and have been in the fandom can relate to the experience that Cath has had of reading the books and not only going to see the movies but dressing up like the characters. Part of being in a fandom that Rowell captures well through Cath's fan fiction in Fangirl is the community and knowing that everyone around you shares and appreciates the same things you do. And in cases of Harry Potter and Simon Snow, fan fiction is used to keep the stories and the fandom going after the official story has ended. This shows readers who may be lonely that there are people like them, just like Cath was no longer lonely when she had her fandom to turn to.

The plot is set in a college setting and focuses on a girl just entering college in her teens. This may be a weakness for the book by limiting the interest level of a younger demographic because it may not be as relatable for younger teens who have not been through college. However, the themes of fandom and fan fiction reach a bigger demographic and are experienced by people from early teens all the way to college aged adults. This website gives reviews from teenagers and shows what age range that the teenaged reviewers think this book should be read by. 

Here is a scene taken and adapted from Fangirl. The first 2 1/2 minutes is from Chapter 24.

This text is important to readers because it can show how other readers enjoy reading and the community that can grow from the book or series. It is important for students to know that they are not alone in reading and that there is a community that they can share in the same experiences that reading brings. It brings encouragement to those that may feel alienated for reading to know that there is a community of readers like them. It is also a good representation and insight of modern American culture concerning books and the internet and how they interact as readers find other readers online and share their opinions and thoughts on the book. I found it to be a good book for reading for pleasure and would recommend this book to read for fun.

As the internet is integrated into Fangirl as a source of community, it was fitting that it was chosen for tumblr's very first book for the Official Tumblr Book Club. Bloggers of tumblr took part in discussion by posting reviews, fan art, gifs, videos and tagging the post #reblogbookclub and the official reblog book club reblogged those posts onto their blog so all their followers could experience what others thought about the book. Here are Fangirl pieces from the Tumblr Book Club.

Also here is Rainbow Rowell's official website for Fangirl.

1 comment:

Laura Elizabeth said...

You mentioned that the collegiate setting is a potential issue for young readers. I definitely understand how that could be a hindrance for say ninth and tenth graders, who still have what will seem like forever to them before college. But what about teaching this book in the Spring to a college bound group of seniors?