Here I come, ready or not: Wrapping up Fangirl

Anna, Emily, and I were a bit relieved when it was time for the Fangirl phase of the blog.  We struggled a bit with Eleanor & Park, mainly because we love it so much. Certain aspects of E&P (domestic abuse, bullying, issues of race and class) are so heavy and important and we didn’t know if our little blog was the right place for those discussions. And, to be perfectly honest, there were times when I wasn’t sure if my little brain was equipped to do them justice.  So we were happy to move away from that pressure, self-imposed though it was (because, really is anyone reading this?). Fangirl, with its adorable pastel cover, its quirky, nerdy heroine, and its clever winks to the Harry Potter fandom, would give us a break. However, I had forgotten what an incredibly touching and sensitive book this is.

I love that Rowell treats Cath’s social anxiety as a valid part of who she is. Her shy, reserved nature is what makes her Cath; it’s not something that needs to be fixed so she can be more like Wren. Yes, she grows a great deal during her freshman year, but she’ll never be a social butterfly and that’s OK. This sums up why I love Fangirl so much: “In new situations all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you and the ones you can’t google” (15). Did I feel that way as a college freshman in a new city?  You bet. That was expected. But do I still feel like that at least once a day EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE? Yup. We all have those moments when we feel like we’re the only one who didn’t get the memo and I’ve never seen that feeling expressed so perfectly before.

Cath’s social anxiety is also never dismissed as a side effect of being part of the internet generation.  Fangirl treats fandom culture and online socializing with respect and sensitivity. I’m sure that anyone reading this post knows how it feels to love a fictional world and its inhabitants to the point that you never want to let them go. And maybe we all spend a little too much time hunched over a laptop, but so does Rainbow Rowell!  In the acknowledgements, Rowell mentions her own relationship to fandom and expresses her admiration for fanfiction writers.  If that isn’t enough proof that she really gets it, just check out her active Tumblr and Twitter. She’s always reblogging fan art (how amazing are these?) and will even make earnest contributions to “fancastingdiscussions about the inevitable movie adaptations of her novels. No wonder she’s not judging us in Fangirl— she’s totally one of us.

Next week Emily will get us started with Attachments! In the meantime, enjoy some fanart to get in the spirit!

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Fangirl 37-38: It’s never over… it’s Simon.

Most love stories end when the couple in question finally gets together or, often, gets back together.  Most coming-of-age stories end there, too, or at a moment when the narrator realizes that they’ve changed, that they’ve grown.  Fangirl ends with the release of the last Simon Snow novel, highlighting that, out of all the relationships in the book, the most important is the one between Cath and her fandom.  And, as in most stories, this important relationship is the one that’s been tested frequently, the one that’s changed the most.   The relationship’s strain was reflected in Cath’s fighting with Wren, its boundaries were tested in Cath’s Writing Fiction class, and its importance was questioned in her relationship with Levi.

Cath and Wren’s relationship is deeper than any series of novels, of course.  But Simon Snow is one of their main touchstones, which Wren discards so casually, knowingly hurting Cath.  It makes me SO happy to learn that Wren cries at the release, that it’s Wren who expresses the eternal connection that the twins will have with Simon.  Cath really does have her girl back — and that means she has her co-writer and favorite beta back, too.  But in these final chapters we see Cath’s other writing talent flourish.  She leaves the world of Simon Snow behind to write her short story, one that is lauded and praised, as we all knew it would be.  She realizes that she isn’t just Magicath; she’s a writer capable of creating her own universe and populating it with developed, interesting characters.  We’ll never know if the literary award was as meaningful to receive as “Best in Snow” or “Tastes Like Canon,” but I’ll assume that she’s pretty proud.

Are you shocked that my favorite part of Cath’s relationship to the fandom is the way it changed to let Levi in?  Are you surprised that I spent the majority of this time swooning over Cath reading the novel aloud to Levi?  If you’ve never followed a series and waited, waited, waited for the next book to come out, then maybe you can’t understand what a big deal this is.  I love the Harry Potter series.  I really, really love the Jessica Darling books.  But, mostly, this meant that I read Megan McCafferty’s blog a lot and once had a “Me Yes Me” shirt and went to some Harry Potter release parties.  I didn’t have a community of friends and a secret career as a fic writer.  I didn’t have fan art or commemorative busts.  And yet — and yet — I don’t think I would read the final novel in a series aloud to someone.  That takes so long!  I need to know what happens!  If anyone ever doubted Cath’s love for Levi, you can see it right here.  The old Cath would consider reading the eighth novel to be at the absolute top of her list (and it’s still important. She doesn’t consider reading her short story or any of Levi’s very sexy offers until after they’re finished reading), but here she is, slowing down and taking the time to include Levi in the experience.  It’s not just Cath and the fandom anymore.  But it’s not Cath leaves the fandom behind, either.  It’s perfect.

What else? What else!

  •  So, the ending with Baz and Simon — are we supposed to assume Gemma was influenced by all of the slash about the two, the way that this season of Sherlock threw in so many winks to its fanbase in love with Sherlock and Watson’s love?  That’s what I thought.
  • I love that Reagan goes to the release party.  Of course, I do.  It’s the Reagan fan club over here.
  • Can you imagine being one of Levi’s roommates, barely knowing his freshman girlfriend and then running into her while she’s crying with her only explanation being that she’s writing a short story? What a great and strange interaction that could have been.

A Recommendation

On the plane from Pittsburgh to Boston on Sunday, I read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and I loved it.  The novel will speak to anyone who has longed for more from a book — that there really is a deeper meaning, a community existing beyond the page, a way to keep reading once the story is over — the way that I think people involved in fandoms must.  Also, two childhood best friends communicate to each other in a short hand that is derived from their favorite fantasy novels, the way that Cath and Wren must also have a secret Simon Snow code.  It’s a fast read (just one plane ride!) and a bit of a caper, and I would absolutely recommend it.

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Fangirl 34-36: I choose you over everyone

Empowered Cath is the best. Once, Cath would have allowed Nick to steamroll right over her, but not anymore. Cath doesn’t need to scream at Nick or accuse him of taking advantage of her. Nick blames Cath for the fact that he lost his teaching assistantship, but he did it all on his own. Cath being unruffled and gracious throughout their conversation just makes it harder for Nick to keep deluding himself. Cath also doesn’t need anyone to fight her battle, but it’s still nice to have backup/moral support. Rowell does such a great job with Wren, Reagan, and Levi’s reactions to the confrontation—Reagan plots like Snidely Whiplash, Wren oozes contempt (403), and Levi kills him with kindness.

Even though Wren is back in Cath’s life, she’s mostly kept Wren and Levi apart. Levi assumes that this separation has something to do with him—either Wren doesn’t like him or Cath is embarrassed of Levi’s humble upbringing and academic difficulties. Cath is of course flabbergasted by Levi’s theories. The real reason she doesn’t hang out with Wren and Levi at the same time is because she’s afraid it’s only a matter of time before Levi finds out that Wren is the prettier, better twin. Which is just as ludicrous as what Levi thinks. And once they realize they’re both being ridiculous they’re much too distracted to make omelets.

Wren understands Cath’s need to finish her version before Gemma T. Leslie, but Levi questions Cath’s motivations. School doesn’t come easy for Levi, and he doesn’t understand how Cath could waste her second chance. He asks Cath “did Gemma Leslie challenge you to a race?” (420), which underlines the futility of Cath’s determination to finish Carry On Simon before the last Simon Snow book comes out. It hurts, but Cath needed to hear it. She loves Simon and Baz, but they’ll wait; the end of the semester won’t.

Other Things

  • I love how Reagan deals with Nick—“Is this yours?” (402). But really Wren, is it necessary to comment on his old world looks? Play it cool.
  • Of course Reagan wants to live with Cath again! And Cath handles the awkwardness of Wren asking to be roommates so well. Living in the same dorm is a nice compromise. So many more opportunities for Reagan to be freaked out by the twin thing.

A Recommendation

I’m so excited because I just started Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the last book in a trilogy by Laini Taylor. Daughter of Smoke and Bone introduces Karou, a blue-haired human girl, who grew up in a demon’s shop in between worlds. Now she attends art school in Prague, but Brimstone, her chimera foster father, sometimes asks her to fetch teeth from across the globe from people who are unable or unwilling to come to the shop themselves. When Karou is suddenly cutoff from the only family she has ever known, she begins to uncover the truth of the centuries long war between the chimera and seraphim.

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Fangirl 31-33: You know I’m falling in love with you, right?

Levi has been trying to get Cath up to his room—not in a creepy way. More in a “let’s get some distance from Reagan” way.  Cath is hesitant, mostly because she likes Levi too much and is afraid of getting carried away. After promising that Cath can set the pace, Levi makes a final plea: “Come home with me. I miss you. And I don’t want to say goodnight” (365). I mean, who could say no to that?

Cath’s plan is to hold Levi to his hands-off promise and take it slow. Unfortunately for her, Levi’s room is a perfect little love den. It’s at the tippy top of the house, “practically in the trees. Practically enchanted” (368). Up in the sexy eagle’s nest, Cath learns that while Levi genuinely likes her fanfiction, he really loves the effect it has on her. With something else to focus on, they can relax and snuggle on his shiny turquoise loveseat without any weirdness. Not wanting to break the spell, he asks her to keep reading, but Cath is ready to move forward without any distractions. She still wants to take it slow, but she knows she can trust Levi with her first time when she’s ready.

These chapters are almost entirely Levi goodness, but there is a little bit of twin sister re-bonding. Wren is back and Cath’s world is “right side up” again (384). It was so sweet to hear from Jandro that even when they were growing apart, Wren would still drop everything to read Carry On. Now that things have settled down between them, Wren can tease Cath about her ironic ability to write gay love scenes despite her real life inexperience. It’s light and sisterly instead of pointed and cutting. Cath finally feels safe sharing her love life with Wren, who seems so pleased that her sister has found someone who challenges and excites her. No more end tables for Cath. Levi is “bright and warm and crackling—he was a human campfire” (388). So he’s not a kitschy lamp, but I was on the right track.

Stray Thoughts

  • I like that we get a bit more insight into why Cath writes fanfiction. GTL doesn’t give Baz what Cath thinks he deserves, so she’s compelled to expand the character on her own terms.
  • Reagan’s inexplicable discomfort with twins continues. She literally can’t tell Cath and Wren apart and can hardly bear to see them together. “It’s like The Shining in here” (386).

A Recommendation

It’s hard for me to come up with a relevant recommendation this week because I’m in the middle of a Landline ARC!!!!!! You guys, getting back to Landline is pretty much all I can think about.

One thing I can say to connect it to Fangirl (without revealing anything, of course), is that I love how Rainbow Rowell writes physical descriptions of characters. They’re always imperfect and specific and very real. In Levi’s case (and in that of a certain Landline character), those details make him all the more dreamy. His slightly doughy chin, his receding hairline, his premature eye wrinkles, his expressive brows— these are all things you would note with affection if you were falling in love with someone.


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Fangirl 28-30: A Scare Can be Valuable

When Cath was in the waiting room at St. Richard’s, waiting to see her dad, she was worried, of course.  She was anxious to know how bad things were, she was upset that she hadn’t been able to stop it, but she wasn’t scared.  She knew the drill; she had seen it before.  And she had Levi, who stayed when she needed him to and left when she asked him to.  Here at St. Elizabeth’s everything is different.  She’s never waited in the hospital because her twin sister has alcohol poisoning.  She has never been the person who couldn’t answer simple questions about her sister’s friends and routines.  And she’s waiting with her mom, who is there when she doesn’t want her to be and leaves when Cath asks her to stay.  The nurse tells Cath that Wren only had a scare and suggests that scares are valuable, allowing someone to realize that their behavior is destructive and needs to be changed.  Here, it seems that the scare is valuable for Cath maybe even more than it is, at least immediately, for Wren.

Cath makes sure her feelings are heard so much in these chapters, maybe more so than in any other chapters in the books.  She has honest conversations with her dad and with Wren.   And I’ve never been more proud of Cath than when she yells at her mom.  Finally, she’s not letting her silence speak for itself — she’s looking her mom in her eyes and telling her how wrong it was to leave.  She makes sure she understands how wrong it is to leave now, again, when her once-abandoned daughter is still in the hospital.

Cath decides, in the dark hospital room as she crawls into bed with her sister, to not stay mad.  She was scared at the prospect of losing her sister, of, even worse, losing a sister that she had already let slip away.  I love the conversation between Wren and Cath the next day.  Cath doesn’t have to forgive Wren — some relationships are beyond the act of accepting an apology.  The apology is always already accepted; the bond is never not in tact.  Not only does she want Wren back into her life, but she wants to start actively caring for and looking out for Wren, to not respond to being pushing away by drawing back.  I spend most of this novel swooning all over Levi, but in these chapters, I realize that the relationship I care about most is the one between Wren and Cath.  I feel so relieved when they decide to be back in each other’s lives.

What else? What else!

  • I love how Rainbow shows the similarities between Wren and their mother in these scenes — the clenched fist, the way they sway their hips when they walk — after Cath described her own similarities to their dad through the novel
  • This novel has many funny lines, but one of my favorites is when Wren and their dad are first talking about what’s next and Wren’s only defense is that she’s eighteen: “I’m eighteen!” Wren shouted.  Cath thought this was probably a bad strategy. (354)
  • Lest you think I wasn’t swooning all over Levi in this chapters:  He was in the waiting room!  He texted Cath to write dirty fan fic about them!
  • I love the small scene when Cath realizes that Wren is still reading her fanfiction.  My heart breaks and melts all over it.

A Recommendation:  Perhaps because my dad works in the drug and alcohol field, I’ve always been pretty interested in addiction and alcoholism, what it means to drink alcoholically (as many college students do), and how drinking so quickly becomes part of one’s identity, especially in college.  In between my freshman and sophomore years, I read Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas.  It’s a memoir by a 24-year-old, after she has decided to quit drinking, about her relationship with alcohol from when she was 14 through the present day.  I loved it and find myself still referencing and contemplating many of the issues it brings up, especially with the relationship between girls and drinking, specifically.

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Fangirl 25-27: No point in being tricky about it now

Cath and Reagan have to negotiate the weirdness of Cath dating Reagan’s best friend and high school boyfriend. Reagan, of course, does not waste any time before laying down the ground rules. The first three rules are basically designed to keep Reagan from hearing or seeing anything to do with Cath and Levi’s relationship. But the fourth rule, “Levi is my friend, and you can’t be jealous of that” (288) is about protecting Cath and preserving their friendship. Since otherwise Reagan might be tempted to remind everyone that Levi loved her first. Cath isn’t sure the rules will even be necessary, but Reagan has a “good/bad feeling” (289).

But what a great first date! A nighttime tour of Levi’s favorite parts of the East Campus, how romantic—even if it is in February. And after the date they keep hanging out. Everyday. Cath wants to spend alone time with Levi, but she’s not ready to spend time at his house. It’s safer when she knows Reagan could come back, or if they’re in public at the Union. But Levi has a room with a beautiful antique couch for entertaining. Cath feels “loose and immoral” (302) just thinking about his hair, and the eyebrows! But Cath can’t quite get over how much more experience Levi has. And Levi just wants to spend time with her—even if it means carrying her laundry and driving her home to Omaha in a blizzard.

Part of what I love about Fangirl is how familiar the setting feels to me. I’ve read other books set in the Midwest, but you can tell that Rainbow Rowell actually lives here. Levi and I could have come from the same hometown—though, alas, there was no Levi at my high school. Of course he was in 4H, just like any good farm boy. And you definitely need a truck (or need to know someone with a truck) for all of your hauling emergencies! There was a cow pasture across the street from my house. My college also had a campus that was mostly for ag majors (and fashion, strangely enough)—maybe it’s just a Midwestern state school thing. Anyway, I love the Midwest and it’s great to read a book that does it justice.

Other Things

  • Reagan, what an excellent Twilight reference!
  • Oh Cath, math contests, really?
  • Gaudy English majors? What does that mean?
  • I love Levi’s reaction to Cath and Wren’s room. He’s just overwhelmed by the preciousness.

A Recommendation

If you love Cath’s slash fiction, you should try Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. It’s a melodrama of manners! Richard St. Vier, a talented swordsman for hire, lives in Riverside with Alec, a moody university student. There’s romance, intrigue, swashbuckling, and fancy parties.

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Fangirl 22-24: I’m rooting for you

Cath is reluctantly entering her second semester of college. Actually, not so much reluctantly as accidentally. Or unconsciously. I love the way Rowell describes Cath drifting back to school as a series of small decisions— before she knew it she was back in the dorm. Whenever I’ve had to do something big and scary and seemingly impossible to tackle (moving away from home, starting a new job, anything to do with public speaking), the build-up was worse than actually doing it. I mean, that’s what anxiety is. Looking ahead at what you have to do feels like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and trying to figure out how to jump across it. But once it’s time to do it, you can focus on taking one tiny step at a time, which is much less scary than taking a giant leap.

With everything that’s on Cath’s mind this semester, all I can say is thank goodness for Reagan. She wasn’t lying about making Levi keep his distance and she doesn’t let it become this weird thing between her and Cath. She just keeps those two relationships separate without letting any signs of strain or awkwardness show. And once Levi is back in the picture, Reagan takes the news of his impending date with Cath totally in stride: “Good for you,” she says. No, good for you, Reagan. You’re the best. I also love how she absorbs Cath’s emotional baggage without any fanfare. Upon hearing that Cath’s mom left when she was little, she simply says “that is crazy.” No follow-up questions, no prying for juicy details. She’s such a good fit for a private person like Cath. Sometimes the university housing lottery just gets it right.

Levi’s back! And he’s here to say that it wasn’t just a kiss (swoon). His little speech about wanting a second chance is so sweet and I love the concept of Cath needing to root for him in order for their relationship to move forward. It’s a way of making sure they’re on the same page without putting pressure on Cath to make a concrete decision. So is she rooting for him? Of course she is, and so are we! And he’s rooting for her too, which is exactly what she needs to hear right now.

Stray Thoughts

  • Cath’s observation about Ugg boots is genius.
  • Someone carved the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” into a bathroom stall door in Andrews Hall. Eyeroll. The most pretentious graffiti could always be found in the English department bathroom at my college.
  • As a slightly self-hating English major (see above eyeroll), I was squirming throughout Professor Piper’s pep talk to Cath. “There’s nothing more profound than creating something out of nothing. . . That’s what makes a god” (261). You guys, stuff like this is why writers are almost always insufferable ego-monsters (not you, Rainbow).
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Fangirl 19-21: The One Who Cried

Poor Cath.  Winter break has certainly not been the easiest for her.  When I was a freshman in college, winter break pulled me out of the community that I had fallen in love with, the new standard of always being surrounded by people that I had quickly adjusted to, and the strange schedule of an 18-year-old who loved to stay up late and eat a weird 2 am meal of soup and candy and threw me back into my parents’ quiet house, where I was often alone and always told that I was staying up too late (my mom wakes up when I brush my teeth late at night.  Her body is so upset by people staying up too late).  For me, it was terrible and I spent a lot of time listening to my discman, creating angsty away messages, wishing I was back at Etown.  But poor Cath!  She would have wanted to go home for a month to spend time alone, to focus on Carry On, to spend time with her dad, to avoid Levi.  And just as she’s about to enter the home stretch of a trying semester, Fucking Kelly calls and everything changes.

Cath spends much of this first half of the novel worrying about her dad and Wren.  Her worrying, for good reason, is pushed into overdrive over break with her dad at the hospital then adjusting to life back home and Wren going out too much and staying out too late.  Cath tries to arrange her life, even in the smallest ways, to watch over the two of them.  She waits up for Wren when her dad doesn’t.  She checks for signs of her dads stability, sadly wondering what she could have prevented when he’s in the hospital and then nervously adopting a strict vigilance over his schedule once he returns home.  But neither wants to be the center of Cath’s worry.  Wren cruelly pushes her away; her dad tries to make her understand that her worrying makes him feel worse.

When she’s not worrying about those who are trying, for reasons good and bad, to create distance from her, Cath is stressed about those who don’t want to create distance.  After Levi (swoon) rushes out of work to drive her to the hospital, he finally confronts her with his confusion over her seemingly-abrupt change in feelings.  Despite proclaiming, loudly and repeatedly, that she wants nothing to do with her, Cath’s mother sneaks a Christmas present to her via Wren, finding a way into her life.  Everyone is disappointing Cath.  When Reagan calls and promises to keep Levi away, to make Cath’s room a space where she can hide from these feelings, I felt so relieved.

What else? What else!

  • When Emily and I were writing Reading Jessica Darling, we joked that we spent so much of our posts praising Bridget that the blog might as well have been called the Bridget Propaganda Project, and it looks like Reagan in the Bridget of Fangirl.
  • Que Lastima! I never really felt the loss of Abel, but I am sad that they are missing their favorite Christmas desserts.
  • Cath wondering around her house alone, taking inventory of all the signs she and Wren would have seen, would have acted on, is one of the saddest scenes in the book to me.

A Recommendation

The scene that I found so affecting, where Cath walks around her empty house looking for clues about her dad’s mental state, reminds me of Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang, a novel about the children of performance artists who spent much of their childhood being part of their art.  When Annie and Buster return as adults to live with their parents in their childhood home, they have to confront what effect the importance that their parents placed on art first and children second had on their childhood.

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Fangirl 16-18: Like a dangerous French fur trapper

Reading until your voice is gone and then kissing tends to make a person tired, so it’s not wonder that Levi and Cath don’t wake up until Reagan comes home the next morning, Levi’s late for work, so he runs out, leaving Reagan and Cath alone for a very awkward confrontation. Cath starts crying immediately and Reagan’s voice sounds “serrated” (181). How did Cath think that Levi was still Reagan’s boyfriend for so long? Cath is too good at shrinking and avoiding anything that could cause conflict; she needs a friend like Reagan who can just cut through the bullshit. Cath saw Levi as off limits until she was too close and too tired to resist, so she hasn’t put any thought into why it could work, just why it can’t.

As Christine mentioned in her post, Cath has no idea about what she would do at Levi’s party. But after kissing Levi, she’s willing to give it a try. Of course Wren took all the good going out clothes, but Cath realizes that she can be the pretty twin too. I love how Rainbow Rowell does a makeover scene. Cath looks nicer, but it’s no Laney Boggs transformation. And then she and Reagan go to Levi’s party. Cath tries to play it cool, but all she wants to do is find Levi. AND SHE FINDS HIM KISSING ANOTHER GIRL! NOOOOOOOOOOO! She and Reagan make a hasty retreat and Reagan lets her pretend like it never happened.

Nick is THE WORST. Levi kisses another girl, and Nick is still the worst. I want to crawl inside the book and strangle him. Let me list the ways Nick is an inveterate ass—his pretentious love of only writing by hand, his obliviousness, his manic pixie dream girl fantasy story, his refusal to admit that he’s taking advantage of Cath. After her fanfiction disaster with Professor Piper, Nick’s betrayal makes even less disposed to write her final story.

Other Things

  • “Levi’s lazy hips and loose shoulders” (187)—swoon.
  • I love that the spells in Simon Snow are common phrases.
  • I hate that Levi misspelling pumpkin in a text makes Cath wince (195). People make crazy errors in texts all the time. It’s part of the charm.
  • Cath has real live fans!!!

A Recommendation

Like Anna’s last recommendation, I’m suggesting a retelling of a classic tale. Two companion novels actually, because I love them both so much I can’t choose. Diana Peterfreund’s post-apocalyptic novels For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across the Star-Swept Sea retell Persuasion and The Scarlet Pimpernel, respectively.

No story deals with romantic misunderstandings and disappointed hopes like Persuasion. Elliot North wanted to run away with Kai, but she chose to stay and run her family’s estates. Now Kai has returned as the intrepid Captain Malakai Wentforth and Elliot is struggling to survive. The letter is just as wonderful in this version.

Persis Blake pretends to be a vapid lady-in-waiting who only cares about extravagant gowns and having fun, but really she’s The Wild Poppy, Albion’s greatest spy. Justen Helo is a brilliant scientist, but he’s afraid his most recent discovery will cause more harm than good if his uncle, the de facto ruler of Galatea, is allowed to use it.

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Fangirl 13-15: What would I do at your party?

Cath isn’t trying to make friends, but it’s hard not to in the super social college environment.  Even if she does want to ignore her well-meaning classmates, she can’t pull that off— she’s no Reagan.  Despite having some new friendly faces in her life, the only people she spends time with outside of class (I’m not counting Nick since they hang out in the context of a class assignment) are still Reagan and Levi, who she says are “more like sponsors than friends” (143). It’s more than a little sad to me that Cath can’t recognize the genuine affection behind Reagan and Levi’s actions.  Cath, they’re not just tolerating you. They’re not just distantly amused by your fangirling.  You have a personality and talents and opinions and it’s possible that they actually like you! It’s clear that Cath’s view of herself and her social persona come from being a twin.  Cath considers herself the uninteresting, expendable part of the “package deal,” at least in real life situations ( is another story). “What would I do at your party, Levi?” (145) is kind of a hilarious question, but she might as well be asking “who am I without Wren?” which is really a bummer.

These chapters also shed some light on Cath’s family issues. We learn more about how tough it was for her and Wren when their mother left, which is why Wren’s willingness to give their mom a second chance feels like such a betrayal.  On the tail of the bar-tastrophe, Wren’s decision to keep it a secret for so long, only to let Cath be blindsided on Thanksgiving, must really sting.  She’s left to process this bombshell without her usual confidant, her other half, and, in typical Cath fashion, she responds by “acting in.” The quiet Thanksgiving dinner in front of the TV pretending nothing is wrong is, again, a huge bummer.

In happier news, back at school, Levi and Cath get a little closer when he confides in her about his difficulty with reading and she helps him prepare for a test. Oh, and they kiss in her bed.  No big deal. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Stray thoughts

  • Um, can we please read more of “Shall We?” by Magicath? What a tease!
  • Freshman months really are like dog months. So much growth in such a short time!

A Recommendation

Reread The Outsiders, preferably with a cute, sleepy boy leaning on your shoulder.  S.E. Hinton wrote it while she was in high school, which I’m sure would earn her much respect from a prolific young writer like Cath.

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