If you haven’t heard of Fangirl, where have you been?
Oh, that’s right. Outside.
Social lives apart, those of us that are the most ‘active in the fandom’ will have seen that green, geek – ed up cover all over tumblr and Facebook. I was both scornful and desperate whenever it was mentioned (I have a haughty mode I retreat into whenever someone says that they’re a fan, like I’m going to out fan them). Ever since I aquired a copy of the book, however, I’ve felt nothing but the upmost respect and admiration for an author who seems that AWARE. The only person who’s ever come close was John Green and he needs no mention by me.
She’s a developed enough writer to use Khaled Housseni’s precious irony (pretty sure I spelt his name wrong) but connected enough to actually REALLY understand us confused teens, when we don’t understand ourselves.
Sure, she’s a good writer. But the subject matter makes the book, and you’ll rarely find anything as important as Fangirl. It’s not about war. It’s not about gay rights. It’s not about social inequality or the class system or rape. It’s simply a book about pop culture.
Yes, this girl called Cather is, to put it mildly, OBSESSED with pop culture: and a series about a boy called Simon Snow in particular. As someone who cannot remember a time in their life before Harry Potter, I can especially relate. So I’m betting, judging by the amount of people I’ve met through he Internet who have been fanpeople themselves, the it’s relatable to millions of others. And to those who frown on the socially inept, there are party animal main characters too.
But I think that the most important thing is the fact that Cather has so many ‘imperfections’. She’s sarcastic. She’s pear shaped. She wears glasses. She turns people away and isn’t interested in making friends. She cries. She clings to home. And, most importantly, her first real romance doesn’t happen until she’s 18. Chances are she doesn’t lose her virginity before the age of 19.
When/if I become a parent, I would rather my child learnt the sort of principles this book gave me. In my case, I picked up on the importance of family bonds but also the importance of independence. Knowing when to be selfless but also having to think about yourself. And having to sometimes push yourself to do school assignments you really don’t want to do…
It’s also also a sigh of relief for the less promiscuous among us. I’m not old fashioned, I don’t aim for a virgin marriage, I just mean that it’s important to know yourself and when you want things. And, like Wren, to be assertive enough to get them. Whether that’s after 3 years of dating or 3 minutes of aquaintance, as long as the person is confident enough in their decision not to regret it.
But it also teaches that promiscuity isn’t all that bad. As Ani Difranco, my go-to girl for feminism says: “Promiscuity is nothing more than travelling, there’s more than one way to see the world. Some of us like to stick close to home, and some of us are Colombus: well, what can I say? Nature always gets her way. ..”
Wren, as the more promiscuous twin, gets her character dragged through the Chelsea Flower Show backwards ( if you don’t know what that is, you don’t watch enough BBC2). But in the end, she really is redeemed, and maybe that’s Rowell’s little nudge to say, hey, readers, judge people less and accept them more.
And don’t even get me started on Nick! She set him up as the perfect male character, intelligent, kind, funny, flirtatious… and then shoots him down in flames. But we see his personality beginning to grate on Cath a little bit up to then, and maybe that’s a good thing. A symbol to us females that the Nick (or Nicole) of our dreams likely doesn’t exist, and that we should open our eyes more and our hipster book character sensors less.
I have a lot else I could say on why this book is perfect, I guess, but it’s already taken me two days to write this. To be continued…