“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”
Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl (2013)
Fangirl is this month’s book for the #GGbookclub
Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl was such a nostalgic read for me. It’s the story of identical twins Cath and Wren who look the same but are completely different. When their mother left home they handled her absence in entirely different ways. Cath escaped into fiction while Wren hid herself among other people. Both share a love of Simon Snow, a magical book series that is soon to release its final instalment. Over the years, the girls have contributed to the books active fanfiction community, and as they leave to start college, Cath is writing her biggest fic yet, Carry On which has thousands of online readers. College tests their relationship with each other, with their father and the people around them. Perhaps for Cath the biggest challenge of all is compromising between fanfiction and real life.
As a past fanfic writer I completely empathised with Cath’s passion for the characters she appropriated. When I was writing fics, it wasn’t something you talked about openly with friends. It was all to do with online connections you made. I envied Cath for her relationship with Wren, that writing was something they could share together. Fanfiction can create unique relationships because you can connect with people all over the world but in an intimate way. A buzz comes from finding someone who shares your view on a film, or a book, or a bank, especially when you diverge from the original storyline. For Cath it’s more than that. She has control over very little in her life. She can’t change what her mother did, or Wren’s reckless behaviour. She can’t look after her father all of the time. Writing Carry On gives her control when she has no power over anything else. I can understand why she would want to do that.
It was a novel I really enjoyed. Wren’s coolness towards Cath’s irritated me at times, but that might be because I’m a twin and I can’t imagine turning a blind eye to my brother’s problems. Maybe because we’re fraternal (no matter how many times people ask if we’re identical) we don’t have to fight to have our individuals identities seen and we’ve always had our own space (and secrets!). I loved Reagan so much. I think she might have been my favourite. I thought she was such a brilliant character. I almost wish there was more of her, or that she had a Twitter page I could follow. For someone so wonderfully uncompromising I thought she was a little gentle with Cath at times. Maybe it was her way of showing she genuinely like Cath but she seems like the sort of friend who would drag you out of your shell whether you want them to or not. I felt the same about Levi. We all know someone who is relentlessly upbeat but I wanted him to be a little flawed, or maybe be a little less obliging sometimes. I think I just wanted someone to shake Cath up a bit, or just hug her aggressively.
The fanfiction scenes were great too. I’m eager to get my hands on Carry On which was published last year to see the masterpiece in full!