Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Real people are so overrated.
Interests/Topics: twins, fanfiction, magic, identity, mental health (bipolar disorder), university dorm living, romance, friendship
Curriculum Connections: English, Writer’s Craft, Health and Physical Education
Blurb: I don’t know of anyone who isn’t at least somewhat fascinated by identical twins. I mean, they aren’t very common and they look exactly alike; of course we’re fascinated. Can you imagine having another “you”? Think of the possibilities! Ever wonder what that cute short haircut would look like on you? Does your new dress make your hips look big? Are your glasses the right shape for your face?
In today’s busy age, an identical twin would be very handy. You could almost be in two places at once. You have an audition on the same day as traffic school? No problem! You would rather meet a friend for lunch than attend calculus class? Send your twin to take notes! (Hint: You should probably keep a little bribe money stashed away, or at least be willing to swap favors.)
What I’d like best about being a twin, however, is having a built-in best friend. I realize that some twins may have identity crises: being constantly confused for someone else must be frustrating. But the upside is that you always have someone who “gets” you; someone who knows you better than anyone else. That’s exactly why Cath, in Fangirl, feels so detached and lonely when her identical twin Wren decides to room with someone else during their first year of university.
The twins have always been close, especially so since their mother abandoned them when they were eight. Caring for their father through his manic periods and throwing themselves into co-authoring fanfaction cemented the bond between them. Cath is perfectly content with her shared twindom: she and Wren even split one name (Cather and Wren, get it?), but Wren is ready to take a different path.
Alone for the first time, Cath faces first-year university and dorm-life with trepidation. She lives vicariously through magicians Simon and Baz, the characters in her fanfiction, using them as substitutions for friendship and romance. But can fictional characters really replace the affections of a missing twin and a handsome Starbucks barista?
The magical stunts of Simon and Baz have in no way prepared Cath for the unpredictability of real people.
Flavour: “It felt good to be writing in her own room, in her own bed. To get lost in the world of Mages and stay lost. To not hear any voices in her head but Simon’s and Baz’s. Not even her own. This was why Cath wrote fic. For these hours when their world supplanted the real world. When she could just ride their feelings for each other like a wave, like something falling downhill.” (96)
“It wasn’t right. Having a twin sister was supposed to be like having your own watcher. Your own guardian. BUILT-IN BEST FRIEND—their dad had bought them shirts that said that for their thirteenth birthday. They still wore them sometimes (though never at once) just to be funny. Or ironic or whatever. What’s the point of having a twin sister if you won’t let her look out for you? If you won’t let her fight at your back?” (114)
“’No,’ Cath said, ‘seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your s*** together, you’re not scared of anything. 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.’” (184)
“’Dad, I need to talk to you about something.’ He peeked over his shoulder. ‘I thought you’d already googled all that period and birds-and-the-bees stuff.’
He turned around, suddenly concerned. ‘Are you pregnant? Are you gay? I’d rather were gay than pregnant. Unless you’re pregnant. Then we’ll deal. Whatever it is, we’ll deal. Are you pregnant?’
‘No,’ said Cath…. ‘I’m not gay either.’
‘What does that leave?’ [asked her father].
‘Um…school I guess.’
‘You’re having problems in school? I don’t believe that. Are you sure you’re not pregnant?’
‘I’m not really having problems…’ Cath said. ‘I’ve just decided that I’m not going back.’” (243)