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"It's not just that… I don't like new places. New situations. There'll be all those people, and I won't know where to sit—I don't want to go," Cath. –Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is the world’s biggest Simon Snow fan. Simon Snow is her everything—his magical world consumes Cath until her entire world revolves around it. Ever since she was little, she and her twin sister Wren poured over the series, continually reading and re-reading, and eventually writing. In Cath’s case, writing an extremely popular fanfiction that has hundreds of thousands of followers. Cath loves being immersed in this fictional world with her sister, but she must soon face reality.
Cath’s freshman year of college is quickly approaching, and in addition to having to pull herself out of her Simon Snow hole, she has to deal with an entirely new obstacle— her sister. As they have been best friends for the entirety of their lives, Cath is shocked when Wren suddenly decides that she does not want to be roommates for their freshman year. This causes Cath’s social anxiety to spiral as she attempts to survive in a new collegiate world without her sister.
Cath is grappling with her pressure-filled, Simon Snow fanfiction and the rough transition to college. Additionally, her emotionally fragile, single father is alone for the first time in eighteen years, and she can’t help but worry about what might happen to him in her absence. She also must confront new feelings towards a male classmate who only seems to want to talk about writing, and a wild roommate with a fascinating best friend. Can Cath hold it all together while the world around her feels like it is all falling apart?
Fangirl is a delightful coming-of-age novel that accurately encapsulates the strong emotional response to the transition to university. Cath’s struggles with her mental health and social anxiety are relatable to modern-day teens, particularly those leaving home for the first time. Her relationship with her sister represents the drifting apart from friends and siblings that can occur as a person grows up.
Despite this novel’s enthralling story and heartfelt characters, Fangirl may not be appropriate for younger audiences. As it is set in college, there are mature events and themes. Sexuality, alcohol, and drugs are discussed often, making the story more appropriate for older readers. Fangirl is also a long and semi-difficult book due to more advanced vocabulary and complex plot lines, making it tough for less advanced readers. For mature readers, Fangirl will be a highly enjoyable read that delves into the depths of a teen’s emotions and life.
- When Cath’s roommate has a guy waiting outside their room on move-in day, she is very uncomfortable. She tells him, “I can’t just let strange guys into my room. I don’t even know your name. This whole situation is too rapey.”
- Cath writes fanfiction about the homosexual romance between Simon Snow and his nemesis Baz.
- Cath had a boyfriend in high school named Abel, but they weren’t particularly serious or romantic. Wren always calls him an “end table” and accuses Cath of not liking to kiss him.
- Wren’s high school boyfriend Jesse never seemed all that interested in her, which made her crazy for him. Cath laments, “He never had eyes only for Wren, not even after they had sex last fall. It threw off Wren’s game.”
- Cath’s roommate Reagan asks if she has, “gay homemade Simon Snow posters.”
- Levi wants to walk Cath to the library at night because she has a “little red riding hood vibe.” Cath responds by saying, “I don’t think rapists care about self-confidence.”
- When writing with Nick, Cath tells him that she doesn’t want, “to write about, like, dead bodies or . . . naked bodies.”
- Cath talks to Wren about the first time that she kissed Abel. “He kissed me that day, on our seventeenth birthday, for the first time. Or maybe I kissed him… I remember thinking… that he made me feel safe.”
- Cath tells Wren about her writing sessions with Nick. Wren responds by asking, “Does it involve kissing?” Cath thinks to herself, “Wren wouldn’t leave the kissing thing alone. Ever since Abel had dumped Cath, Wren was on her about chasing her passions and letting loose the beast within.” After this point, Cath sees boys everywhere and as a constant distraction to her, particularly their physical qualities.
- Cath gets a ride home with a girl named Erin who talked too much. “All she talked about was her boyfriend who still lived in Omaha and who was probably cheating on her.”
- Cath writes Simon Snow fanfiction for her creative writing professor. A friend responds to this information by laughing and asking, “Do you really expect an elderly English professor to be down with gay Simon Snow fanfiction?”
- Levi wants her to read fanfiction aloud to him. She searches her computer for something, “not too romantic. Or dirty.”
- Cath describes the time after her mom left their family and says that Wren, “scratched a boy who said they were gay in the eye.”
- There is an excerpt from Cath’s fanfiction that carries sexual innuendo. Baz asks, “Have you ever done this before?” Simon responds, “Yes. Not like this.” Baz then asks, “Not with a boy?” and Simon responds, “Not when I really wanted it.”
- Levi leans against Cath when she is reading to him, making her nervous about what their relationship status is. This is followed by Levi sleepily kissing her. A half-page make-out scene follows.
- When Cath tries to convince herself that she does not want romantic involvement with Levi, she says, “He’s different… He’s older. He smokes. And he drinks. And he’s probably had sex. I mean, he looks like he has.” She then proceeds to think that the last person that he slept with was Reagan.
- When Reagan helps Cath get ready for a party, she discusses her hair, saying, “If you’re not going to blow it out… you may as well look like you’ve just been fucked.”
- When Cath gets to a party, she sees Levi kissing a girl, “with his mouth smiling and open. He made it look so easy.”
- Every time Cath sees Levi, she is reminded of the relationship that they almost had. “She tried not looking at him— because every time she did, she imagined him kissing someone, either her or that other girl, and both memories were equally painful.”
- When Cath tries to tell her father that she doesn’t want to go back to school, he first asks, “Are you pregnant? Are you gay? I’d rather you were gay than pregnant. Unless you’re pregnant. Then we’ll deal.”
- After Cath makes up with Levi, Reagan asks, “Did you sleep with him?” She proceeds to ask about their relationship, to which Cath responds, “Things you pressure me to do: one, underage drinking; two, prescription drug abuse; three, premarital sex.” Reagan then tells Cath that she lost her virginity to Levi.
- Cath talks about her feelings towards Levi and says, “God, she wanted to tackle him and roll around in him like a cat in a field of daisies.” She also says that his eyebrows are, “pornographic.”
- There are several make-out scenes, each lasting about a half-in page in length. They are fairly detailed.
- Cath’s mother told her daughters about her unwanted pregnancy. Cath wonders if her mom told them as a warning to, “Stay away from men? Maybe just ‘use a condom.’ Or ‘stay away from men who don’t know how to work a condom.”
- Levi and Cath talk about having sex, but she is not comfortable with it, so she consents to “touching.” Even in this situation, she must read fanfiction with him to feel comfortable.
- Wren’s boyfriend Alejandro punched a “drunk pervert right in the chin” when they were at a bar.
- Cath gets hit in the ribs by the doorknob of her dorm room door when Reagan barges in. She is not injured.
- In Cath’s fanfiction, Simon fights a rabbit with his sword. Baz later kills it. “He ran toward the rabbit, holding his sword with both hands over his head, then plunged it with all his strength into one red eye. The rabbit collapsed, utterly limp, a paw falling into the fire.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Cath discusses the observation that all of the upperclassmen and professors wear black Ray-Ban frames. “If Cath got a pair of black Ray-Bans, she could probably order a gin and tonic around here without getting carded.”
- Cath says that Reagan smokes.
- Cath asks if engineering fraternities, “get drunk and build bridges.”
- Wren declares that “drinking tequila is more about the journey than the destination.”
- Reagan asks Cath if she is on drugs. When Cath responds with no, Reagan says, “maybe you should be…” Reagan later proclaims that she is on drugs and that they are, “a beautiful thing.”
- Cath discusses illegal drinking on campus. She said that it didn’t matter on campus as “there was booze everywhere. Wren already had a fake ID.”
- When Cath calls her dad, he says, “Don’t hang out with frat guys, Cath, they’re terrible. All they do is get drunk and watch ”
- On weekend mornings, Reagan always looked like a mess because she, “drank too much and slept too little… She still smelled sweat and cigarette smoke.”
- Cath is harassed by drunk perverts in a bar. The scene lasts several pages and many characters are inebriated.
- Cath says that she does not want to go to Levi’s party because she doesn’t want to “drink, smoke, or get high.”
- When Cath objects to dating Levi, Reagan says, “You’re making him sound like he’s some rowdy mountain man who like, smokes cigars and has sex with prostitutes.”
- Cath’s date struggles with mental health issues and is supposed to take medication for his problem, but it never lasts as he believes it blocks his creative process.
- Reagan tries to quit smoking by never lighting the cigarettes that are in her mouth.
- Wren gets alcohol poisoning and is taken to the hospital. When Cath arrives, she has to answer a list of medical questions. “Was Wren a regular drinker? Did she often drink to drunkenness? Yes. Did she black out? Yes. Did she use any other drugs? I don’t know. Was she on any medication? Birth control.”
- Nick always writes about girls with nicotine-stained fingers.
- Profanity is used frequently throughout the novel. This includes shit, fuck, fuck off, thank god, bitch, damn, hell, crap, ass, asshole, goddamn, and horseshit.
- During move-in day, Reagan says, “If you’ve got feng shui issues, feel free to move my shit.”
- Simon Snow calls Baz a, “complete git.” He also later calls him a “prat.”
- Wren’s roommate says that she is on the “skinny bitch ”
- Levi has an, “especially shitty truck.”
- Wren flips off a drunken pervert at a bar.
- When Cath looks in the mirror before going to a party she thinks she, “looked like exactly who she was— an eighteen-year-old nerd who knew eff-all about boys or parties.”
- One character is always referred to as, “fucking Kelly.”
- God, Jesus, oh my god, godforsaken, and Jesus Christ are all used frequently.
- Cath is a huge fangirl for a book series about teenage magicians. Their exploits are often described, as are their uses of magic. This series is very similar in content and tone to Harry Potter.
- Baz, a character from Simon Snow, is revealed to be a vampire.
- Reagan tells Cath, “If God put me in your life to keep you from wearing a fucking tail… I accept the assignment.”
- Levi calls the town that he is from, “god’s country…All the gods. Brahma and Odin would love it there.”
- When Cath wears a ponytail, Reagan asks her, “Do you have to wear your hair like that? Is it some kind of Mormon thing?” Cath is not Mormon.
- Cath’s English professor talks about the power of writing. She says, “Think about it, Cath. That’s what makes a god—or a mother. There’s nothing more intoxicating than creating something from nothing.”
- The English professor says, “I can do whatever I want with my student’s grades. I’m the god of this small thing.”
- Levi’s mom is active in her Baptist church.
by Morgan Filgas