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Tag Archives: Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

Most people under thirty (and many people over thirty) are edgy these days; our soft, organic, human curves honed to sharpness by the razor edges of technology. Our minds are edgy, as television and movies are edgy – jumping from thought to thought, chore to chore, channel to channel. Rainbow Rowell is edgy, too, and so is her writing. Rowell manages to skim along that razor with skill, keeping pace with the new way we think. Her writing seems effortless. Her fiction is fresh, exciting, and fun, along with being edgy. It’s also very, very real.

Fangirl (St. Martin’s Griffen, 2013)is a fairly straightforward story – twin sisters go to college. Each of them finds their own way. They have boyfriends, make new friends, work hard, make mistakes, etc. The rub comes as the sister’s co-dependent relationship crumbles. Cath, the painfully shy main character, is stretched to her limit as her sister Wren abandons her for her new friends. Cath buries herself in the world of fiction, particularly the fictional world of Simon Snow: reading it, writing fan fiction, and using it as an escape mechanism. Rowell weaves Cath’s story together with the fictional story of Simon Snow, and then throws in snippets of the fan fiction that Cath writes as well. Taken together, it’s a kaleidoscope of a story, a hall of mirrors in which one plot line is mirrored in another story, and again in another, distorted a bit each time. All of this is sewed together so seamlessly, it’s hard to see the skill involved in making this story sing.

But sing it does. Rainbow Rowell is writing great fiction, with great characters, great plot, and a sincere message. Somehow, she gets it just right. The characters shine as individuals; none of them perfect, all of them human and recognizable as facets of ourselves. There is enough movement to sweep you along, enough jumping to keep you tensed and ready to spring, enough humanity to grab hold of your compassion and tug you away from your own world into that of the characters.

If you are a fan of John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), you’ll likely enjoy anything written by Rainbow Rowell – they have similar messages and writing styles, and they use unconventional and powerful tools in their story telling that makes them interesting to read for people who have grown up in the digital age.

Rainbow Rowell succeeded in making Eleanor & Park one of the best written YA novels of 2013 (see my review here), and she succeeds again with Fangirl. I recommend it for anyone fourteen and up.

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Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013) restored my faith in writing. It’s brutally honest, unpretentious. Savagely eviscerating. Exhilarating. Reading it made me lonely and mad and proud; in turns and all at once. Eleanor and Park is a beautiful book – beautiful because it’s true.

It’s a straightforward story: two misfit characters, poor white trash and weird Asian kid, fall in love, but Rainbow Rowell nails it all: plot, character, dialogue, scene. Her characters lay on the page in a spot of sunlight and bloom from spring into full summer in scene after scene after scene. Details strung together make mosaics of story and emotion. Rowell’s writing brings back all the agony of being an imperfect teen. (The bra strap held together with safety pins was the gem that really got me – what woman can’t relate to that?)

The Young Adult rating is just a rating – this book can and should be read by anyone over the age of 14. I wish there was a way to give Eleanor and Park to myself when I was young. As it is, a copy should be given and to every kid out there who is even a little different, and every kid who thinks they aren’t. Whether you are a teen reader, an adult with a teen, or just a citizen of planet Earth, give yourself the gift of reading this book. Eleanor and Park will put you right inside the heads and hearts of two teenagers who are not so different from yourself, and will change you forever.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in Fiction, Young Adult

 

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