Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September, 2013
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
What I Think: This book has Nerdy Book Club written all over it! I loved Cath and her story from the very beginning. I was instantly gripped by Rainbow Rowell's writing. She brings characters to life in such a natural way, helping the reader feel like we know them already. I listened to this book on audio and remember pulling over to tweet just how much I loved this book after barely listening to it.
I love that Cath is such a normal girl, I can see how so many readers will connect with her. She's level-headed, loves to read and write, follows the rules but at the same time isn't so sure about life away from home, her dad and her twin sister. Then there's her roommate Reagan and her boyfriend Levi and they are awesome. There are all such believable characters with lots of personality. I just love them!
As I reread parts of Fangirl to grab quotes, I was so much more aware of all the little nuances between Cath and her...I'll say "love interest" to be spoiler-conscious. Rowell gets it. The first time around, I was still wondering about Cath and her "love interest" but now that I know it's him, there are so many little things that are so obvious now. At the same time, she wove them in like little whispers of love. This love story if so wonderfully done by Rowell.
When it comes to Fangirl as a mentor text, looking at what Rowell does with characters is definitely the place to start. She masters dialogue and showing what characters are doing instead of telling to help the reader build an understanding of her characters. Readers connect with characters when authors so expertly bring them to life. To me, this is an art. Ask students to really pay attention to what she has done, how her characters talk, how they interact with each other. The third snatch of text below is an exchange between Cath and another character. It's mostly great dialogue but notice how the little description is so perfect. It's about what they are doing, how they look at each other, less about what's around them and instead how they look at each other. It's so well done! An excellent mentor text if I ever saw one.
Read Together: Grades 10 and up
Read Alone: Grades 10 and up
Read With: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
Snatch of Text:
"She just needed to settle her nerves.
To take the anxiety she felt like black static behind her eyes and an extra heart in her throat, and shove it all back down to her stomach where it belonged - where she could at least tie it into a nice knot and work around it." (p. 5)
"Cath imagined herself at her laptop. She tried to put into words how it felt, what happened when it was good, when it was working, when the words were coming out of her before she knew what they were, bubbling up from her chest, like rhyming, like rapping, like jump-roping, she thought, jumping just before the rope hits your ankles.
'To share something true,' another girl said. Another pair of Ray-Bans.
Cath shook her head.
'Why do we write fiction?' Professor Piper asked.
Cath looked down at her notebook.
To disappear." (p. 23)
"'You just want to make fun of me.'
'I won't,' he said. 'I promise.'
'That's what you and Reagan do when I'm not here, right? Make fun of me. Play with my commemorative busts. Do you have a stupid nickname for me?'
His eyes sparkled. 'Cather.'
'I don't exist to amuse you, you know.'
'One, are you sure? Because you do. And, two, we don't make fun of you. Very much. Anymore. And, three...'
He was counting on his fingers, and his cheeks were twitching, and it was making Cath laugh.
'Three,' he said, 'I won't make fun of you, to anyone but you, from now on, if you'll just once, right now, read me some of your fanfiction.'
Cath gave him a level stare. A mostly level stare. She was still giggling a little. And blinking hard. And occasionally looking up at the ceiling. 'You're curious,' she said.
He nodded." (p. 132 - 133)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connection, Visualizing, Making Inferences
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Characterization, Description, Show Don't Tell, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you gave up something you wanted to do to for something your were responsible for.
Topics Covered: Relationships, Family, Siblings - Sisters, Twins, Identity, Self Esteem, Friends, Love, Trust, Loyalty, Responsibility, Courage
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