FanGirl is a young adult novel by Rainbow Rowell about a young woman’s first year in college. Cath (Cather) may be just a college freshman, but she has a worldwide following for her fan fiction featuring Simon and Bas, two students at a magical academy that brings Harry Potter to mind. Thousands follow her continuing story “Carry On” that she hopes to complete before the eighth and final installment of The Canon (the official works of The Author). She feels this responsibility deeply and seems even capable of sacrificing her college education for her writing.
But she has more complications than trying to do her schoolwork and her fanfic. Her identical twin sister Wren is more interested in seeking her own way separate from Cath, leaving the incredibly shy Cath feeling lost without her confident and social twin. She worries about her dad and then out of the blue, her estranged mother who abandoned them years ago is interested in seeing them as well. And then there’s Cath’s roommate Reagan, a Valkyrie on earth (not really). It’s a lot to handle.
I know “girl goes to school” does not sound like much, but this story is about character and ideas, more than plot. Still, there’s plenty happening and it’s all presented with a sharp and clever wit. But even more, there are these fabulous interstitial excerpts from the invented Simon Snow canon and fanfic. I want to read those books even if they do not exist other than these small excerpts.
While this is a young adult novel, the intellect and the themes are adult, who do you trust, how do you know you love someone, what happens when parents fail you, what do you do when you screw up. It’s funny and smart and an absolute winner. I can’t wait to read more by Rainbow Rowell.