‘Fangirl’, by Rainbow Rowell has been on my reading list for a while now and even though, I should’ve read this amazing, heart-warming book earlier, I’m glad I read at this point in my life, because I related to Cath, the book’s protagonist, so much.
Not only does she write fanfiction, she loves escaping in other worlds, ones of magic and witches, where there is no judgement, she finds peace in a land of Mages and mystical creatures, much like I do. She’s a girl of books and stories, of the written word, she prefers to spend time in her room, she doesn’t like parties or places with a lot of people, suffers with anxiety and is a deeply caring person.
It’s been quite a long time since I’ve related so well to character – my anxiety is awful right now and I don’t think I’ve felt this low in years and in Cath, though she is, perhaps not depressed, I found a lot of similarities. It was like almost reading about myself and because I felt such a connection to Cath and to the other characters, Levi especially, it really pulled on my heartstrings. When I was coming up to the last pages, I didn’t want it to end, I would happily escape to Cath’s world, because there, it felt like perhaps, I would be understood, not judged.
I like to write stories, both original and fanfiction based – it’s nice to escape into another world, even if, only for a few hours. And this book, really showed the reader what it is like to be in a fandom, to invest in something, whether it’s a book, a film, a comic book, a TV series, it shows those who might not know, how important these things are to some people. Because, it’s not just a TV show or a book to us, it’s more than that – the characters become our friends, their worlds, our home and their adventures, the ones we dream of having, but sadly will never be able to reach.
It’s hard sometimes, to go about daily life, and books always, for me, make it that slightly bit easier. This book made me laugh and cry and smile, it made me feel all kinds of emotions, I found myself unable to put the book down and when I did get to the end, I didn’t want to stop reading. Sometimes, it’s hard to find a book that makes you feel this way, but when you do, treasure it, because I know that this is a book, I will read over and over again.
Another character that I adored was Levi. He was such a good person, extremely loyal and caring – he listened to Cath read her fanfiction (and not once did he judge her, when someone else might’ve), he picked her up from the library at night, even though he hardly knew her and didn’t have to, he drove her to the hospital to visit her dad, he drove her home in the snow, helped her find her drunk sister, stood up for her in front of some sleazy drunken frat boys. He didn’t pressure her with sex and let her take her time, he was understanding and loving, he fell for her – when she thought she wasn’t worth falling for. He loved her and all of her, or what she thought were, her flaws. The thing that stuck me about Levi, is that yes, he was a good guy, an amazing guy, he wasn’t perfect – he had insecurities and troubles, but that’s what made him more likable, because instead of painting him as ‘prince charming’, he was human.
And that’s what Cath needed, someone to just understand her and accept her, not save her – because she never needed saving in the first place.
Reagan is someone I came to love – she was hilarious and sarcastic and upfront. What I liked was that even though she was so different from Cath, the two became friends and Regan did actually, care about Cath, despite teasing her. It showed the reader that it’s not about being introverted or extroverted, or somewhere in the middle, you don’t need to confine yourself to those labels, you can be who you want and sooner or later, you’ll find people who accept you for you – even if you’re quite different from one another.
The storyline of this book had me hooked from the beginning, and during its course, you learn quite a lot about Cath’s life – her father, who suffers quite badly after his wife leaves him, Cath’s sister Wren, who is always considered the ‘better’ one, Nick, Cath’s writing partner, who later only wants her to steal her work and Cath’s teacher, who takes Cath under her wing. The story isn’t only about a girl who writes fanfiction and meets all these incredible people, who help her coming out of her shell slightly, it’s also about the bonds and ties you have to family. And how they can be broken or strained. Heart breaking as it is, this book was true to the portrayal of marriage – it’s not always happy smiles and kissing under the stars, sometimes it’s painful and full of augments, sometimes, it doesn’t work out. Cath’s father, Art or Arthur, is a caring father, who was struggling quite badly after his failed marriage, but Cath and Wren help him stay together.
To add to that, Cath’s twin, Wren changes quite a bit from what Cath remembers back home. Their closeness is strained and, proves that people change, but can find themselves again with a little help. Cath also learns that not everyone with a kind face and similar likes, are your friends, Nick uses her and then decides that his story, or rather, their story, is better off without Cath. Though, he tries to say that it was all his idea, it is obvious that he didn’t really want to be friends with Cath altogether.
And finally, Levi and Cath’s relationship is something that I loved. It wasn’t rushed or typical, they had problems and Cath was quite unsure at the beginning. But after, when she opens up, you can see how much she really cares about Levi, and how much he does for her. Cath had never been in a relationship like this before, and Levi could’ve easily turned out to be someone Cath didn’t expect, but he didn’t – he was kind and caring and smart, and liked the things she did, but also liked parties and sometimes smoking, if other people were smoking.
And though, this book does involve quite a lot of couples, it shows that love isn’t this perfect thing, all kisses and smiles, sometimes it involves tears and pain, but it’s so much better than what you see in films, it’s real – because it makes you feel so many different emotions – it can hug you and hold you, make you cry and scream, but at the end of the day, if you’re lucky and the person you’re with is on the same level, love can set you free.