Fangirl (novel)

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Fangirl book cover.jpg
First edition
AuthorRainbow Rowell
Original titleFANGIRL
Cover artistNoelle Stevenson
CountryUnited States
GenreContemporary Young Adult
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
Publication date
September 10, 2013
Media typePrint
Pages445 (Hardcover)

Fangirl is a young adult novel by Rainbow Rowell, published in 2013. Fangirl is Rowell's third published book, following Eleanor & Park.


The book presents Cath as a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, along with her more outgoing identical twin sister, Wren. While Wren is making new friends and partying, Cath struggles to adjust due to her social anxiety. Most of Cath's free time is spent writing fan fiction.

Wren distances herself from Cath and professes to have outgrown fan fiction, whereas Cath becomes more interested in her writing classes. She becomes friends with her classmate Nick, meeting him for writing sessions.

Despite this, Cath is miserable. Her roommate Reagan and Reagan's friend Levi decide to help. After Cath becomes closer to Levi, he reveals he is romantically interested in her. Just before finals, Cath's father has a bipolar episode, and is involuntarily committed. Cath ditches her exams and her final paper to take care of her father.

Cath nearly gives up on her studies, on Wren, and her friends. However, she decides to continue, and learns to cope. Cath and her sister reunite in the hospital after Wren gets alcohol poisoning. Cath encounters her mother there, who had abandoned them years before. As the school year ends, Cath finishes her novel, and struggles to write an original short story for her class.


Rowell stated that most of the characters have names taken from buildings on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's campus.

Cather "Cath" Avery[edit]

The protagonist of the novel, and title's namesake "Fangirl," Cath is an identical twin, the shy one. Cath is a talented writer, and her hobby is writing fan fiction. In her family, Cath is close to her father and sister.

Wren Avery[edit]

Wren is the more confident and less responsible of the twins. Wren cares about fitting in and partying more than her studies or looking after herself. Wren is described by Cath as having had lots of boyfriends. After experiencing alcohol poisoning, she agrees to change her ways.

Levi Stewart[edit]

Cath's friend and ultimate boyfriend. Levi is tall, blonde and comes from a farming background. He hopes to work on his family's ranch. Cath describes him as having a smile for everyone, and he is polite, smart and an extrovert. Before the events of the book, he and Reagan were in a relationship, but split up once he discovered her cheating. Levi is shown to be faithful and loyal, and tries to get Cath to come out of her shell.


Cath's roommate. She is described as an edgier version of Adele.[clarification needed]. Reagan is sarcastic and cynical, and often mean to Cath, although this is apparently the way she shows affection. She eventually befriends Cath.

Arthur Avery[edit]

Cath and Wren's father. Arthur is bipolar. He is described as a marketing genius. In the middle of the novel, he suffers from a bipolar episode and is committed to a mental institution. He is an accepting parent and lets them make their own decisions.

Laura Avery[edit]

Cath and Wren's mother. She left the girls as 8-year-olds in 3rd grade and promised to keep in touch, but did not. She attempts contact with the twins throughout the novel, but is only given a chance by Wren. Cath resents their mother.

Nick Manter[edit]

Cath's classmate and former writing partner.[clarification needed] Cath describes him as looking like "someone with a steerage ticket on the Titanic".

Professor Piper[edit]

Cath's writing professor. She is described as a small woman with long, grey-streaked brown hair and high cheekbones. She believes the most in Cath's writing talent and lets her take the semester to work on her final assignment. Professor Piper disapproves of fan fiction, and while understanding that it is not plagiarism, criticizes it as unoriginal.


The critical reception to the book was 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."[1] Entertainment Weekly gives Rowell credit for capturing both the universe of fan fiction and the inside of a young person's head.[2] A Kirkus starred review calls the novel "absolutely captivating."[3] 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.[4]

Spin-off novel[edit]

In October 2015, Rowell published the novel Carry On as a standalone fantasy story of the same name of Cath's fan fiction in Fangirl. The story follows Simon Snow and his rival, Baz Pitch, over the course of their final year of magical schooling.


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