It was Mother’s Day in the UK yesterday. My Mother’s Day treat was to spend the whole day pretending I’m not the mother of a one year old and to snuggle down and read a whole book in one sitting which I haven’t managed to do since I was in the hospital waiting for my daughter to be born.
In honour of this momentous occasion, I picked a book by the same author, Rainbow Rowell, as Ireland in the hospital. Last year it was ‘Attachments’, this time it was ‘Fangirl’. From experience of her writing. I knew it would an easy, light, enjoyable read that I’d be able to get into and through quickly. I also wanted to read it because one of the characters is called Wren, which is my daughter’s name, although it turned out that that character was a bit of a cow.
‘Fangirl’ is the story of twins Cath and Wren, who start university together. They’ve always been close but Wren wants to strike out on her own, leaving the more introverted twin Cath feeling nervous and scared about finding her place at university on her own. Cath is obsessed by a Harry Potter style series for which she writes fan fiction. Gradually she makes friends, falls in love and discovers that real life can be as rewarding as her fantasy world.
I enjoyed this book, particularly the beginning. I’m very introverted so I found Cath very relatable. However, I felt like the story lost a bit of momentum once Wren got a love interest; Levi was a bit too good to be true and I wasn’t really convinced by their relationship. He is so much more mature than Cath, and she is still such a child I found their relationship a bit creepy even though he is always the perfect gentleman. Also, I was disappointed that the character of Nick wasn’t explored more, I found him more interesting than Cath home life drama with her parents.
It’s a sweet book, but not quite as emotionally punchy and gripping as ‘Eleanor and Park’ which is definitely Rowell’s best book so far. I also didn’t really enjoy reading the sections of fan fiction and excerpts from the fantasy series which Cath is obsessed by. They felt a bit like padding and not all that well written. It’s interesting that Rowell’s latest book ‘Carry On’ is set in that world, I’m going to read it but I find it hard to imagine it working very well based on the bits of the story interspersed through this book.
I read this because I absolutely loved ‘Eleanor and Park‘ by the same author. Unfortunately this book was nowhere near as compelling. It took me ages to read. It’s pleasant enough with a sweet storyline and nice characters but it’s really slow with a real lack of narrative drive.
Lincoln is a shy, clever man who lives with his mum and who has a job reading staff emails which have been flagged by a newspapers email filter. Jennifer and Beth are two employees whose personal emails are regularly flagged and Lincoln finds himself compelled to read their conversations and become personally invested in their lives.
From the beginning it’s obvious where the story is going and which of the two romantic leads should and will end up together; so **spolier alert** it’s quite frustrating that they don’t actually meet until about 10 pages before the end of the book. This makes the development of their relationship seem rushed and incredibly unrealistic. Also, it doesn’t leave room to satisfactorily tie up some loose ends, for example **spolier alert** I really wanted to meet Jennifer and Mitch’s baby.
Setting the book in 1999 is an interesting choice. It’s funny to think about how much technology has moved on in the past 15 years and how worried people were about the millennium bug. However, these touches only add a little humour/novelty to the book which does not make up for the lack of pace or the absence of quality moments in the romance.
I love love love love this book! If only I had read it a couple of days early, it would have been the second five star book on my Top Ten Tuesday list of the best books I’ve read this year!
I pretty much loved this book from the very beginning. It’s the first book I’ve read in ages that made me want to stay up all night to finish it but also stretch reading out for as long as possible to savour its perfection.
This is probably the most perfect romance I have ever read. There are so many amazing moments. When Eleanor and Park hold hands for the first time I almost squealed! It’s kind of an opposites attract love story but at the same time they have so much in common in terms of their interests and their perceived outsider status that they are ideal for each other.
I love that throughout the book there’s never any doubt that they love each other and will always feel that way, even if Eleanor never says it. Despite the ambiguous ending I’m going to believe they end up together in the end!
I love the fact that Park is somehow both perfect (as YA boyfriends usually are) at the same time as having lots of realistic human flaws, such as self-consciousness and caring too much about what other people think.
Rowell describes wonderfully what it feels like to be an overweight teenager and see yourself as much bulkier than you actually are. She also looks insightfully at the self-image issues which come with being a mixed race kid in an all-American family/neighbourhood.
There are lots of gentle references to 80’s pop culture but it’s not too heavily laid on as it sometimes can be in ‘period pieces’.
I think it’s fairly obvious from the number of times I’ve used the word ‘perfect’ (or tried to find substitutes) that I thought this book was wonderful, flawless, superlative. I’ll definitely be reading more Rainbow Rowell books in the future.
I also now have a book set in Nebraska to add to my US state book challenge and another for my books that made me cry list. 🙂