As I’m sure you know from my recent ramblings, I’ve been in need of some lighter reads lately and I kept hearing great things about Rainbow Rowell, so decided to give Fangirl a try.
Fangirl is a YA coming-of-age novel written in deep point of view, which any of you writers' out there will know, is pretty desirable at the minute. I was looking for a good example of deep point-of-view written in the third-person past and this was a great choice, as it turned out. It’s narrated from the perspective of Cath who has a twin sister called Wren and if you bunch those two names together, guess what you get, Cathwren! Pretty cool, well, it is and it isn’t because it’s really due to the fact that their mother was lazy and choose to split one name into two when she found out she was having twins! That set the precedent for their mother who, as it happened, walked out on them both when they were eight years-old. They were mostly raised by their father who suffers from bi-polar and plays a minor part in the book. The real story is about how Cath adapts to change when her and Wren leave home and go off to University. Even though the story is told from Cath’s point of view, Wren is just as important because the focus is on how both girls deal with their new lives.
Cath was one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read about. She’s a self-confessed nerd who loves nothing more than to spend her time writing fan-fiction from the perspective of Simon Snow, a kind-of Harry Potteresk character who features in novels and movies that are released in her fictional world. Am I making sense here!? Fuck it! It made perfect sense when I read it, but fuck-me if I know how to describe it! Anyway, she has a huge fan base online and spends countless hours writing her own fiction based on Gemma T Leslies characters, which she then posts online.
For two people who are so similar, in name and appearance, Cath and Wren explored their new lives in very different ways. While Cath was quite unsure of herself and wanted much to remain the same in her life, like her fanfiction, Wren was the opposite and wanted nothing more than to unleash her wild side. The two girls opposite approaches to adapting to their new lives highlighted the diversity of humanity in the face of change and ultimately showed that however much we strive to be individuals, it’s people and not things that help us get there.
Now for the best bit: the characters. Each one brought something to the story and I found something to love in them all, well, except Cath’s mother! A lot of times characters are just there, like a back-drop to the plot and as such, they’re often neglected. Here they were really present, every idiosyncrasy fully transparent in a way that furthered the narrative. They were all so different, too, almost an a-la-carte selection of characters that balanced things perfectly, like the sensitive and always smiling Levi or Regan the scary roommate.
There weren’t any thrills to speak of here but I thought it worked all the better for it, a perfect snapshot of life.