Cath is an 18 year old girl who in every way is your ultimate fan girl. All her life here constants have been her father, her identical twin, Wren, and her fanfiction of Simon and Baz. It's the way Cath likes it. Predictable, sane, reliable and safe. Cath is thrown for a loop when Wren decides not to room with her at college and is stuck with an all too much, loud, opinionated, angry (really all the emotions you can think of but cheery), totally-opposite-from-her-in-every-way roommate, Reagan.
Mixed with her anxiety (over, well, just about everything) and worry for her father back at home and a daunting class load, Cath finds herself delving deeper and deeper into her online world of Simon and Baz. While she has created quite the following from her online community- reaching reader numbers in the tens of thousands- her relationships manifested in the physical are minimal at best. If that's not enough, que entrance from her absent for more than fifteen years mother who had just decided one day that she needed to find herself and left, and an all confusing, quite but not quite, is-he-or-isn't-he Reagans boyfriend Levi who Cath just can't decide if he is or isn't in her staunchly guarded inner circle.
I can't say I fell immediately in love with this book. Or with Cath for that matter. Cath, as a person, is someone I don't think I would connect with in real life. Not truly. It felt like we kept missing each other on the "I get you" scale and I very nearly put this book down.
I get the whole fanfiction "thing", and being so enveloped in a world that you don't want to come back to reality. And getting joy from someone's work who was able to take that lovely world and extend it beyond the realms the originators were willing to take it... But I can't say I'm a part of it. I get the whole introvert "thing", and the anxiety "thing"-- maybe not to the extent where I would stay in my room scarfing protein bars in lue of the cafeteria due to the anxiety of it all. But I just kept turning pages nodding on and on, because while I wasn't exactly resonating with Cath, the writing and story was good.
And as I kept reading I began to realize. That hey, I do like this book, and this quirky girl Cath that we have barely anything in common with, and that charming, good guy, Levi and yes even that crazy roommate Reagan.
And it's because of this. As I read this book and got to know Cath, I realized, these weren't "things". It wasn't a fanfiction "thing" or an anxiety "thing" it was her. This is Cath, it's who she is. And I feel its credit to Rainbow Rowell and her impeccable writing that I was able to realize this. Cath in the end, yes does learn how to work through her anxiety and maybe not be so worried about everything, But she doesn't change who she is. She doesn't suddenly become a social butterfly or someone I could immediately relate to. She stays true to the person she is, but is able to mature and grow. I know it sounds so petty and old and common sense. But realizing that people are different-- that people are raised differently and come from different families is such a simple concept, but a life long lesson I feel I will always be learning. So even though Cath and her dysfunction is different from my dysfunction, we somehow still meet on many levels.
The third time was in high school. They were sixteen, and their grandma came to stay, but not until the second night. That first night they'd spent in Wren's bed, Wren holding Cath's wrists, Cath crying.For whatever reason, this scene stuck with me. I cried with Cath in this scene, being totally afraid of what you might become, the fear of maybe becoming someone you don't want to be and having the notion that there's nothing you can do about it. I'm sure I've bored you all to death with this somewhat life epiphany this book gave me, but it really did give me insight! Insight into a persons life I probably would've never been able to experience or understand. This YA novel read as a YA novel should. I echo Janice's sentiments Exactly.
"I'm like him," she'd whispered.
"You're not," Wren said.
"I am. I'm crazy like him." She was already having panic attacks. She was already hiding at parties. In seventh grade, she'd been late to class for the first two weeks because she couldn't stand being in the halls with everyone else during passing periods. "It's probably going to get worse in a few years. That's when it usually kickS in."
"You're not," Wren said.
"But what if I am?"
"Decide not to be."
"That's not how it works," Cath argued.
"Nobody knows how it works."
"What if I don't even see it coming?"
"I'll see it coming."
Cath tried to stop crying, but she'd been crying so long, the crying had taken over, making her breathe in harsh sniffs and jerks.
"If it tries to take you," Wren said, "I won't let go."
A few months later, Cath gave that line to Simon in a scene about Baz's bloodlust.
"This is what I want New Adult fiction to be–not a marketing term that means sex, but an extension of the coming-of-age tale into a post-adolescent bracket. Fangirl captures that awkward unsure side of tasting independence for the first time."
I loved the detail of the twins' names. Cather and Wen...Katherine. -- and gives insight I feel to the mother.
I loved that boy Levi.
"I just want to know--are you rooting for me? Are you hoping I pull this off?"*sigh* oh that smile of his.
Cath's eyes settled on his, tentatively, like they'd fly away if he moved.
She nodded her head.
The right side of his mouth pulled up.
"I'm rooting for you, " she whispered. She wasn't even sure he could hear her from the bed.
Levi's smile broke free and devoured his whole face.
I loved both Cath and Levi together.
She didn't look over at Levi again until they were standing together in front of the elevator. (Condition: Smiling, stable). When it opened, he put his hand on her back and she practically jumped in.Well because give me a boy that talks like that and I will die a happy woman.
"What's the plan?" She asked.
He grinned. "My plan is to do things that make you want to hang out with me again tomorrow. What's your plan?"
"I'm going to try not to make an ass of myself."
He grinned. "So we're all set."
I love Cath here cause her response would pretty much be my mantra the whole night if I were on a date with someone like Levi.
And because most of all, it makes me smile.