Fangirl (novel)

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Fangirl book cover.jpg
the cover of Fangirl
Author Rainbow Rowell
Cover artist Noelle Stevenson
Country United States
Language English
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Publication date
September 10, 2013
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 438

Fangirl is a 2013 contemporary young adult novel written by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl's publication follows Rowell's previous young adult novel published earlier in 2013, Eleanor & Park.


Cath is going to college. She loves Simon Snow, a book series written by fictional author Gemma T. Leslie. Although Cath has had her twin sister, Wren, by her side for her entire life, when it is time to hand in college room assignment forms, Wren decides to break out of the familiar shell and share a room with someone other than her sister for the first time. She is placed with a girl named Courtney, and Cath is paired with Reagan, a wild, rough kind of girl. Reagan seems to be going out with a boy named Levi who often hangs out in their room, so Cath assumes that he is Reagan's boyfriend.

Missing her exams, Cath decides to stay in Omaha to take care of her father rather than going back to school to make up for the missed work. Nick, her writing partner, has decided to hand in the "anti-love" story that Cath had helped him work on, giving himself all the credit for it. She feels betrayed, and shuns him, avoiding the library where he works.

Finally having enough of school, Cath begs her dad to let her stay with him in Omaha since she is unhappy at college and she is worried that her dad needs someone to stay with him so that he stays healthy. Cath's father tells her that she deserves to have a life and an education and refuses to let her quit. Eventually, she decides that if she is unhappy after the next semester, she will come back home and quit school. Also at this time, Wren decides to spend her time with their mother and Cath gets angry at her for betraying their father and herself. After an argument between the girls, they stop talking to each other.

Later, after seeing the people living on their floor slowly trickling out, Reagan asks Cath to live with her again in their same room and Cath gladly agrees. Cath ends up deciding to write about her relationship with her sister Wren. She hands it in and ends up winning the award that Nick almost did.


Cather "Cath" Avery - The shy, introverted protagonist and eponymous Fangirl. As an identical twin, she describes herself as looking like her sister, only with long hair and glasses. The twins both have brown hair and blue eyes, which have specks of green, grey, and brown. Cath, unlike her sister, prefers to dress in clothes that say "staying in and writing gay fan fiction all night" rather than "going out to a club to party". Since she was a child, Cath prefers to disappear into the Simon Snow books than live her own life. She says that it is easier to write about Simon and Baz (characters in the book) than have friends of her own. She also says that, if she could, she would live in the world of Mages for the rest of her life. Cath is also a very talented writer, being one of the best writers in her Fiction Writing class and eventually earning the Underclassmen Prize for her original story "Left", which she writes for her class. Cath has a 4.0 average and has a scholarship at the University of Nebraska! Cath is the kind of girl that prefers to stay in her room and study than go out and party like other freshmen. Though she is famous on the internet as the writer of Carry On, Simon, a fan fiction about the Simon Snow series, she does not like interacting with other people. When approached to talk about her fan fiction in the library by another girl (because she was wearing a Carry On shirt) she pretends that she is not the author. Cath has a very good relationship with her father and, after her mother left them, she took over as the mother figure of the house. Cath feels responsible for keeping her father in check and making sure that he is all right, offering to stay home and drop out after he has a break down. As a result of having to take over the role of matriarch, she is very resentful of their mother and refuses to acknowledge any memory of her. She is deeply offended when Wren decides to talk to their mother, especially since she made the choice to leave them. Her relationship with Wren was good before they started college. The twins had been best friends and she always saw Wren as the only person she actually liked. At college, Cath notices the changes in Wren and their relationship becomes strained, which makes her feel alone and isolated. They later make up after Wren gets alcohol poisoning and is taken to the hospital. She befriends her roommate Reagan and Reagan's "boyfriend" Levi, eventually dating the later. She likes that Reagan is seldom in their room and likes her sardonic humor. They end up having dinner together every day and making fun of the people in their residence. She also starts dating Levi in the middle of the book after finding out that he isn't dating Reagan and hasn't for years. She is annoyed at first that he is in the room all the time, but later enjoys his presence and heavily relies on him for emotional support. Cath has very low self-esteem and constantly berates herself for not being more like Wren. As a result of this, she lets her writing partner, Nick, take the sole authorship of the story that they worked on together as his final project. She also has trouble believing that Levi actually likes her romantically. She keeps him and Wren separate because she thinks that if he gets to know her, he will like her better and then dump Cath. Cath is very uncomfortable with physically touching people as well, and prefers to write romantic scenes than experience them herself. Eventually, she lets Levi start a physical relationship with her after she is comfortable. She eventually decides to stay at the University of Nebraska, continue living with Reagan, and pursue a career in writing.

Wren Avery - Cath's twin sister. Wren is the "awesome one", being more outgoing and extroverted than her sister. Although identical, Wren has short, stylish hair and often wears revealing clothes that Cath does not. Cath sees Wren as "the awesome one" because of her confidence and her ability to take things in stride. She is the less responsible of the two and cares more about fitting in and being a party girl than working hard and taking care of herself. Wren is the one who tells Cath that she does not want to be roommates at college because she wants to break free and have her own life. According to Cath, Wren has had lots of boyfriends, though she has not really cared for any of them, and has a habit of "converting" boys (she dates them, they fall in love with her, and then she dumps them). Wren is the one who decides to reconnect with their mother, though later it is revealed that it isn't a typical mother/daughter relationship and Laura just wants to be their friend rather than their mother. Wren is also constantly annoyed at Cath for being overbearing and more like a mother. She berates Cath for wanting to stay inside and write rather than live her life. After she gets alcohol poisoning, she agrees to change, and is shown to party less and gets closer with Cath as a result. According to Cath, Wren was always the twin that was liked more. In school, she says, nobody could tell them apart, and when they could, it was because Wren was cooler, funnier or better than Cath. Cath is hesitant to let Wren hang around with Levi out of fear that he will get to know Wren and end up liking her better, which he practically laughs at and tells her that Wren is too "harsh" for him. Wren is also an avid fan of the Simon Snow books like her sister. The series was their main bond as children and though she hides it, she is completely obsessed and cries at the release of the eighth book.

Levi - Cath's friend and, later, boyfriend. Levi is shown to be tall, blonde and a farm boy. He was raised on a ranch in a small town in Nebraska and has four sisters. He studies Range Management at the Agricultural School and hopes to work on his family's ranch eventually. At school, he works at Starbucks and lives with six other guys in a house owned by one of them. Cather describes him as a guy who is always smiling at everyone like it doesn't cost him anything. Levi is polite, smart, and an extrovert. He knows a lot of people and loves talking to them. He was in a relationship with Reagan, but they broke up when she couldn't stay faithful to him. Although he is very smart and has an incredibly retentive memory, Levi struggles with reading because the written words to not resonate with him like sounds do. Instead, he listens to lectures and books so that he can retain the information. Cath ends up reading The Outsiders (novel) to him one night and they kiss. Levi is shown to be incredibly faithful and loyal, driving Cath to rescue her sister after a misunderstood 911 call and going back to Lincoln from Arnold to be with her when Wren is taken to the hospital. He is the person who is most devoted to getting to know Cath and getting her out of her shell. He is intrigued by Cath's love of writing fan fiction and is the first to figure out that reading fan fiction relaxes her and uses it as a tool to get to know her better.

Reagan - Cath's roommate. She is described as an edgier version of Adele. Reagan is sarcastic, cynical, and often mean to Cath, but this is apparently her way of caring. She eventually takes Cath under her wing and becomes her friend. She dated Levi in high school, but they broke up when they got to college, and remain friends. She is on a scholarship and is required to live in residence.

Arthur Avery - Cath and Wren's father. He is mentally unstable, but is a good parent to Cath and Wren. Arthur is shown to have crazy ideas, like building a fireman's pole to the attic, etc., and is described as a marketing genius by his boss. He is left in a tough position after their mother leaves, but copes with the help of Cath and Wren. He has a psychotic break while at work and is admitted in the middle of the novel. Although he does need help to take care of himself, he puts his daughter's education above all else and doesn't let Cath take care of him. He is also shown to be a very liberal parent, not caring about who the girls bring home and letting them make their own decisions.

Nick Manter - Cath's classmate and former writing partner. Cath describes him as looking like "someone with a steerage ticket on the Titanic".[1] He is a talented writer but takes himself too seriously, not believing in love or wanting to write romance. Nick asks Cath to write together as a side project and work on it in the Love Library, but he ends up writing most of it himself and getting Cath to "fix" his writing by editing, writing dialogue, and changing details. Eventually Nick tells Cath that he is going to hand in their story as his final assignment for their class, telling her that he did most of the writing while she acted as an editor. Professor Piper, however, notices, and in a meeting with Cath, tells her that she could feel her in the best parts. Nick eventually loses his teacher assistantship due to his plagiarism and cannot get the story published in the school journal because Cath won't allow him to put her down as the coauthor, a demand of Professor Piper.

Professor Piper - Cath's Fiction Writing professor. She is described as a small woman with long grey-streaked brown hair and high cheek bones. She is the person who most believes in Cath's talent, giving her a second chance to redeem herself by letting her take the semester to work on her final assignment. She is the one that makes Nick Manter ask Cath for permission to publish the short story that they wrote together. Professor Piper disapproves of fan fiction and while understanding that it is not plagiarism, criticizes it for being unoriginal.

Alejandro "Jandro" - Wren's boyfriend. Jandro is introduced at Muggsy's, where he punches another guy because he was making rude remarks at Wren and Cath. He is described as Mexican, tall and muscular and disapproving of Wren's drinking habits. He studies Agriculture and lives in the Farm House, the Agriculture fraternity.

Courtney - Wren's party girl roommate. At the beginning of the book they are shown to be really good friends, despite only having met over the summer. Wren later begins to resent Courtney because she is shallow and quite stupid.

Laura Avery - Laura met Arthur while at college where she was an art student. She never planned on getting pregnant and was not pleased when she found out that she was having twins. She left the girls on September 11 and promised that she would talk to them again, but never did. She tries to get in contact with the girls at Thanksgiving and is only given a chance by Wren. Cather hates her mother for leaving them and does not approve of her lack of interest in their lives. Laura named her daughters Cather and Wren because she wanted to name her daughter "Catherine" and didn't want to change her choice of name.

Abel - Abel is Cath's former boyfriend. He breaks up with her when Cath is a few months into college. He tells her that their relationship was never real. He also tells her he met another girl, Katie, who he feels he has a "real" relationship with. He tells her Katie is the reason why he is doing this. He also leaks that Katie got a higher score than Cath in tests and Cath explodes over this. Cath gets upset and hangs up with him. She ignores all his later texts and he finally stops texting. Before, in their relationship, they've went to a double date with Wren and Wren's boyfriend to the movies. They've also went to the military ball and math contests together.


The critical reception to the book has been positive, noting in particular its realistic portrayal of fan culture. A reviewer for calls it "true-to-geek-life" and notes that "Rowell understands something vital in her novel, and that is that fandom is so much more than escapism—it is, whether conscious or unconsciously—a way for folks to interact with their surroundings."[2] Entertainment Weekly gives Rowell credit for capturing both the universe of fan fiction and the inside of a young person's head.[3] A Kirkus starred review calls the novel "absolutely captivating."[4] When Fangirl was chosen as the inaugural book for the Tumblr book club, a Tumblr representative noted its themes of loving books and creating art, its appeal to readers of all ages, and Rowell's existing fan base on the social media platform as reasons for the choice.[5]


  1. ^ Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, NY. Print.
  2. ^ Nordling, Emily (13 August 2013). "Finding Your Real Life OTP: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell". Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Brissey, Breia (4 September 2013). "Fangirl (2013)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell". Kirkus Reviews. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Brissey, Breia (11 September 2013). "Tumblr chooses Rainbow Rowell's 'Fangirl' as first official book club selection". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 15 September 2013.