It is kind of nice when the depression recedes enough for hope to peak through, like wild weeds in a poisonous garden festering. I don’t know how it happens, but at some point, things start looking up again. Perhaps, that is the power of fiction for me. Reading about someone else makes me forget what it’s like to be me (usually). And, yet, when I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, something very different happened: I read what it is like to be me.
Cath is an eighteen year old college freshman and she has anxiety. Like, really bad anxiety. She can’t go to the cafeteria kind of anxiety. I have anxiety. She writes, and I try to write. Often, she spends her life in her head. I do that, maybe even more than she does. But, you get it, right? I found myself in her story. It is kind of weird that I experienced this deja vu with a much younger character. I’m almost thirty. I have been out of college for so long. Yet I was relating to Cath’s struggle to write, to express herself, to make friends, to get in relationships that are complex and scary. In fact, she goes on journeys I have never had the courage to experience.
As a fellow fangirl, I enjoyed her writing of Simon and Baz’s story. I fangirled at her work and her spirit.
Moreover, her relationship with her sister is powerful and moving. Wren is outgoing and often hard to reach. I have a sister like that. Like Cath, I find myself grasping and comparing and losing very regularly. It is a tough battle, because I am much older than said sibling. People tell me to get over it, to move on, but the OCD kicks in and I get stuck in destructive loops.
Oh my goodness, Nick, and how he used her, it hit so close to home. I have had this experience too many times in my life. There were moments when I had stood in the shadows to let someone take the credit for my my voice. It is practically like Ariel in Little Mermaid giving up her voice to get something else.
It’s a wonderfully written book. Funny, moving, charming, and honest: it sheds light on family, relationships, expression, art, fiction, reality, education, drinking…so many things in one work that it is sometimes overwhelming to read. I am so glad that I did read it, though, because it is one of my favorite things I have ever read. It has made me feel less strange. Yes, I am pretty weird, but maybe that is not such a bad thing. Feeling this way is a new experience and I think it’s for the better.
Please, do pick it up and check it out. Such a great book. OH, and read Carry On *afterwards.* Don’t be a dork like me and read them in the wrong order.