Representation Reads: Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

The Internet is breeding fangirls – and I won’t deny that I’m one of them. And what is one of the most popular outlets for fandom creation? Fanfiction, of course. Cath Avery, the eponymous fangirl of the novel, is one of the few characters in literature who has social anxiety and panic disorder. When she goes off to university with her twin Wren, Cath feels like she’s lost the other half of her to the partying and binge-drinking lifestyle of college. She’d rather stay in her dorm, writing fanfiction about her beloved Baz and Simon from a fictional story about a boy wizard – sound familiar? Draco and Harry, anyone?

“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”  

Cath gets extreme anxiety in social situations, such that it confines her to her room for meals – made primarily of energy bars – for fear of eating in public in the cafeteria. She’s surrounded by extroverts; Wren, her roommate Reagan, and love interest Levi. But Cath isn’t the only one struggling. Wren is a binge drinker, and ends up being admitted to hospital for alcohol poisoning. Levi has dyslexia, having to listen to his lectures, and is at his wit’s end trying to decipher the books he has to read for his courses. Cath and Wren’s father has Bipolar Disorder – and suffers a psychotic episode that lands him in a psychiatric ward for a while.

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There is a true plethora of representation in this book, and more than that, it’s an amazing story of real life with a mental illness. Anyone who has ever lost themselves in fiction, found themselves enthralled in an imaginary life to escape their own, will relate to Cath. Cath studies creative writing, and is scorned by her professor for writing fanfiction, accused of plagiarizing. However, the excerpts of her fanfictions that are scattered throughout the book will make every reader indignant at accusations of unoriginality by her teachers.

“I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

You will fall in love with Simon and Baz as much as Cath and the other main characters. And if you, like me, became a firm ‘SnowBaz’ shipper reading this book, you’re in luck; Rowell has released Carry On, the story of Simon and Baz. And if you’re looking for LGBT+ representation, you’re in for a treat. For some R-rated Harry Potter, you needn’t look further than Carry On. This one is for every person who believed Draco should have used some Amortentia on Harry.

Carry On is the book every person with a mental illness is looking for, and even more so if you’re a self-proclaimed fangirl (or fanboy, or fan-non-binary-pal). Not to mention, Rainbow Rowell is a marvellous person.

Happy reading friends. x

 

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