Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10th, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin
GoodReads Summary: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Review: I can’t remember reading a book that felt so authentic to and aligned with my own experiences. I have this urge to buy hundreds of copies of this book and pass them out to college freshmen. Freshman year of college is an incredibly difficult time, and this book helped me remember it vividly. From Rowell’s descriptions of the domesticated squirrels to the awkwardness of roommate interactions to the feeling of entering the dining hall for the first time and not knowing where to go or where to sit (and feeling sure everyone is watching you), this book perfectly captures the minute details of college life–and all of the insecurities that come with it. I loved the parallels cast between Simon Snow’s story and Cather’s, and it inspired me to want to be a writer. This is a beautifully compelling story that will resonate with readers.
View Kellee’s review of Fangirl HERE.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This would be a great book to teach along with a creative writing unit. It would inspire students to want to become stronger writers. Students could write their own fanfictions or alternate storytelling (like Nick and Cather did). Cather’s struggles as a writer are inspirational, and I am betting that most people, like me, close this book and want to get out their computers and start writing.
Very few authors are able to hone in on the minute details of humanity. I noticed Rowell’s incredible ability to do this in Eleanor & Park, and she certainly did not stop there. I would love to copy passages of this book for close readings. This would really help students understand good, powerful writing.
Discussion Questions: Cather finds it difficult to write about any world other than that of Simon Snow. Why do you think that might be?; How are Cather and Wren different? Do you think there are any underlying reasons for their differences?; What is Nick’s purpose in the novel? What does he show about Cather?
“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”
Read This If You Loved: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian