I have always enjoyed the young adult genre. But ever since I wrote my first young adult novel (I started it about a year ago), I have read YA almost exclusively. Peter Pan, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Catcher in the Rye are three of my all-time favorite books, which definitely says a lot about me. If you’ve ever seen the short film I wrote, Leapfrog, or read my children’s play, The Snow Globe, you might guess that I have a Peter Pan complex. Maybe that’s why I love coming of age stories so much.
I finished reading a novel today called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is a coming of age novel about a girl who writes fanfiction. Here’s the full description from Goodreads:
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?
There were a few reasons why I loved this book.
First of all, it was a coming of age novel right up there with The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Catcher in the Rye for me. Secondly, it was about people being obsessed with things and geeking out over things. The ultimate geeking out. Fan fiction. This entire book basically proved all of the points I was making in the Follow Your Obsessions post I made a while ago. Thirdly, not only was it a coming of age novel, but it was a writer coming into her own voice sort of novel. And I think she was able to find her own voice because she had spent so much time following her obsession and writing fan fiction. When her fiction writing professor told her fan fiction was basically plagiarism, I wanted to yell at her. If I were a fiction writing professor, I might even have my whole class do a “follow your obsessions and write fan fiction” assignment.
Reading this book made me feel the way I felt when I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the first time. It brought me back to a time when I was finding my own voice as a writer. It brought me back to a time when I was finding my own voice as a person. Rowell does an incredible job of capturing the socially anxious, inexperience 18-year-old’s voice. She really captured the discovery of relationships, too, as well as the discovery of artistic collaboration and how sometimes you can get taken advantage of.
Rowell is going to be making an appearance at the Young Adult Book Festival in Charleston next month, and I’m really hoping I get to attend that. (I’m in Atlanta, which is only about 5 hours away from Charleston.) It would be great to see a bunch of YA writers, hear some interesting lectures, and to just be around the book lovers again (like at the Decatur Book Festival). It would be great to get Rowell to sign a copy of Fangirl for me.
I don’t typically write “book reviews.” I do, however, write “OMG I’m geeking out and read this book people!” posts. And I had to share this book with you, especially because this is a writing blog. And I think other writers would really dig this book. I also think anyone who has ever geeked out about anything would dig it.