When you put a book at the bottom of your to-read list it’s almost a death sentence. Do you ever get there? I never do. There are always books that I want to read but I’ve come to terms that I may never read them. This is one of those books. My wife had received it as a gift a year ago, and after reading it had asked me to read it too. I of course said I would try but didn’t think I would ever get to it. Then along came this challenge and the opportunity was laid before me to finally acquiesce with the desires of my wife. The lesson learned: don’t ignore the books at the bottom of reading list. They are often much better than you thought they would be. Sometimes you may even find a new favorite.
Everyone loves the Simon Snow series, but Cath is more than your average fan. As the writer of the highly popular fanfiction, Carry On, Simon, she continues the story where the author, Gemma T. Leslie, left off. But with her twin sister Wren leaving behind their childhood passion and both of them moving to college, Cath finds herself in a whole new place with a whole new life and little idea of what to do. As the pressures of family, school, and new potential relationships begin to pile up around her, she can’t decide whether to abandon the new path she has started down or return to the life she had before. As she tries to make this decision she must also decide what she can hold onto and what she’s willing to let go: including Simon Snow and everything it means to her.
Is this one of my favorite books? No, but I’m glad I read it. I’ve been reading less young-adult fiction and I thought this would be just like everything else that’s been coming out lately. (There have been some good YA books published lately, but whenever I go to Barnes and Noble everything I see looks the same.) Fangirl was a happy surprise. The romance was different, meaning not a love triangle and was actually a healthy relationship, and the story was unique and used the plot and characters to ask some good questions about the condition of young adult maturity.
My wife read this book outloud to me and throughout the entire duration of her reading I was commenting about things I did and didn’t like. My wife, the ever patient person that she is, would stop and listen to what I had to say, sometimes replying or explaining how she saw a particular situation before continuing on. I’m glad she did because I wouldn’t have understood the characters as well as I do now.
This book is a startlingly accurate account of what it can be like to go through a big life change, especially for those who struggle with change, depression, or social anxiety. Life isn’t easy for everyone at every stage of life. Sometimes the things people do don’t make sense to us, but they would if we took the time to get to know those individuals. I found myself confused or frustrated with many of the characters, including the protagonist, but when I got into the story I started to understand Cath more and more. Her decisions, though not always the best, defined her for who she was. This was her rite of passage story, and a powerful one because so many people (especially girls, who statistically will be reading this book more than men) can relate to one, some, or all of the characters.
For those of you who like John Green’s work, especially The Fault in Our Stars, you would like this book. The dialogue, the character driven plot, the characters themselves, and even the feel of the locations carry similar characteristics: they both feel like true stories told in a fictional world.
There is some language and some romantic scenes, which some parents may not want their kids reading, but none of it is gratuitous. This is one of those books where the words and the events, though sometimes seeming trivial, have a profound impact on the book as a whole. This is a book that portrays the world like it is. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t glamorous, and it sure isn’t always that nice; but it can, and will almost always, get better.