The Mind

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

Life is one big learning curve - just because you’ve finished formal education doesn’t mean you’re stopped learning things.

Rating: 4/5

Fangirl is a coming-of-age novel about finding your feet and learning to live independently…whilst also balancing a love of fandom culture and fiction writing with the stress of college.  

Growing Up

Cath and her twin sister Wren are off to college. Their relationship, and their shared love of the Simon Snow series, is Cath’s main source of strength. Together, they got through their mum leaving by escaping into the fictional universe held within the pages of their favourite books. Simon Snow is such a huge part of Cath’s life that she even writes fanfiction about the series. 

But now Wren is moving away from her love of fandom and, worse than that, is breaking away from Cath. Left to room with a stranger instead of her sister, Cath has to struggle through college without her usual support system at her side. Between starting college, figuring out new friendships, writing fanfiction, and looking after a family she feels is falling apart, Cath isn’t really sure she can control any of it. 

The plot might be a tad predictable on some counts, but it’s surprisingly easy to get sucked straight back into the emotional turmoil of first year, only this time it’s not you who is at risk of getting hurt. Fangirl is a very relatable experience of facing the truth: we all have to get older.

Why I recommend: Accepting Change

Technically Fangirl is about the transition into college, not out of it, but the lessons about coping with change are ones we have to learn and relearn throughout our lives. For Cath, gaining independence from her family is one of the toughest parts of moving to college. For so many people, college is that first step away from home, and they never go back, moving away for work, love of a city, or just for a change of pace. Fangirl confronts how difficult life away from home can be, but also how freeing. 

Being a YA fiction, Fangirl has its moments of cringe and cheese. I shan’t lie, I doubted whether it even deserves to be recommended – it’s not exactly a difficult read. However, it’s an upbeat coming-of-age novel that reminds us it’s okay to be exactly who we are – but it’s also okay to grow, change, and become someone different. The reason I’m recommending it to recent graduates is as a reminder that life is one big learning curve – just because you’ve finished formal education doesn’t mean you’re stopped learning things. Be open to new experiences, however silly or childish they may sound to you, and never deny the things you love. And remember, you’re never too old to indulge in a little fantasy.

Written by Megan CorbettAnother English Student

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