Review: Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

First off, 4 out of 5 stars for this overall solid book. I struggled a bit with it a bit, but as I’ve been writing my review, I decided to bump it up from 3.5 to 4 stars.

My problem is that I’m of two minds when it comes to how Cath thinks internally about her Dad. Her Dad obviously has Bipolar Disorder (though if this diagnosis is specifically mentioned at any point, I missed it). He also has chosen for years to go without treatment, and because of that, he prone to episodes of mania. Now that Cath and Wren are off at college, they are not there to keep an eye out for the signs and help to bring him down from these episodes in the early stages, so at one point, it gets so bad that he becomes hospitalized. MOSTLY Cath’s thinking about her Dad is supportive, and she worries. But a couple of times throughout the book, she thinks more negative thoughts, such as that he is “crazy.”

I am of two minds about the whole thing because on the one hand, it hurt me to see her thinking he was crazy. That word carries with it a strong connotation and can be extremely hurtful if used against someone. But, on the other hand, when I stepped back a little bit, it occurred to me that this was also an honest look at what it’s probably like to live with and care for someone who has a mental illness.

Bipolar Disorder does not go away, and so if you’re living with, caring for that person and/or watching out for them, you’re probably in it for the long haul. Caring for someone who is chronically ill is hard. Sometimes it can bring you to your knees with how exhausting and emotional it is. And in those exhausted, emotional moments, thoughts are going to run through a person’s head that probably are not the most flattering, and that probably would not be said to someone’s face if they had their choice.

All that aside, I found the rest of the story pretty charming and interesting. It was really easy to get caught up in the little world that Cath created for herself on her college campus and to really like all of the characters who she gets involved with. Well, most of them, anyway. Except for the ones that really just don’t lend themselves to being liked, and then they were really quite easy to despise, which is just as good. And being a college student myself, it was especially easy to relate to some of Cath’s experiences with classes and deadlines, despite our age difference.

And just a quick closing thought: I, personally, liked Cath’s writing of Simon Snow better than I liked Gemma T. Leslie’s writing. I think that GTL’s lacked a certain character and pizazz that Cath’s had.



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