Publisher: St. Martin's Press
My rating: 3 stars
Cath and her twin sister have always been a package deal, so when Wren decides she doesn't want them to live together when they go to college, it leaves Cath feeling lost. The only thing that keeps her going is her thousands of fans . . . of her Simon Snow fanfic. It has gotten her through everything so far, so she hides behind it through the ups and downs of her freshman year. She doesn't think she's missing anything, until she starts realizing that she is.
What I liked about Fangirl is that Cath is so relatable. She carries her anxieties around with her, never stopping to relax unless she's losing herself in her fanfic. She's shy and lonely, but at the same time wonderfully snarky and caring. Looking back on my college experience, I would have much rather have stayed in reading or watching a movie than at a party (and still do prefer those over going out), which is what Cath does. Some of the things actually started making me feel anxious, so, trigger warning? Cath doesn't think anyone will accept her crazy, but she finds someone who does--and isn't that what we all want? Someone to understand us and accept us for who we are?
The treatment of mental health was so ordinary that I didn't feel that Rowell was trying to make the novel into a "very special novel" about mental health. There was no trying to stigmatize it, or make it funny, or trying to teach about it. Some people have mental health problems, which can sometimes be a strength and sometimes a weakness. They can make you feel crazy, or maybe make you cautious, or help with your creativity. It's about finding a balance.
The novel also touches on family and growing up and apart and back together again. About finding yourself and sticking up for yourself. But it never preaches. It also had some really funny lines and sections.
I'm not sure how I felt about the snippets from the fictional Simon Snow books at the beginning of each chapter. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention, but they didn't really seem to add anything to the story or carry the theme through. And since Simon Snow is fictional, I didn't really have a connection to it, making it a little tedious to read several pages at one time.
There was a lot of language, which is part of the reason I put the age so high. Also, since the characters are in college, I don't think readers younger that 16 would be able to relate as well. There were also some sexual situations and dialogue.
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