Sunday, September 29, 2013

there's a little bit of something me in everything in you

when we were younger, my sisters and i read this book of short stories. i think it was my older sister's book? anyway, they weren't scary stories, but they were supposed to leave you feeling slightly creeped out. bits and pieces of them have stuck with me over the years for some odd reason. there was one with fairies i think that skinned this girl's pet cat. one with a girl that pretends she doesn't know her mom at the airport and ends up as a flight attendant for life. (or something.) but the one relevant to my post today was about these two sisters (i think they had just thrown a party their parents were going to kill them for) that were allowed to go into this magical rose garden. in each rose was an alternate timeline that they could go down. they were allowed to pick a rose (i don't remember if they did) but as they searched for one they got to see glimpses of what would really play out in a bunch of different "what if" scenarios. i just finished reading fangirl by rainbow rowell and i feel like i got to peek into a rose of my own.

warning: this post is likely to be too long. i can't help myself. drunk-on-books-pseudo-psycho-babble rambles are my worst kind of rambles. it may also contain spoilers. maybe.

the book is basically the story of cather avery's first year at college. cather has a twin that doesn't want to be part of the "twin package" anymore, a dad who is kinda mentally unstable, a mom who left them when the twins were in third grade, and a huge obsession with simon snow (think harry potter with magicians instead of wizards - like, in terms of how huge the franchise is, not so much the plot.) she is also the writer of one of the most popular simon snow slash fanfics online.

fangirl doesn't just hit too close to home, it is home. or, it could be. like, if the essence of me, what really makes me me and all of that, was put into another person - someone living in a non-muslim, american family with one parent that doesn't commute to college (the girl, not the parent) - i would be cather. does that even make any sense? i haven't related to a character this much in a long time (or, at least not one that i did not also have strong urges to punch in the face more often than not), and it was fun. this wasn't me falling into the protagonist's shoes because she is a hollow, generic character made to have several built-in compartments to fill with your own personality. cather was a well-developed character who i just happened to see a lot of myself in. she is an anxiety-ridden, slightly misanthropic, fanfiction loving, wannabe writer and there is nothing about that that makes me think "well, that's not me at all." reading this book was like like standing in my own rose garden and seeing what could have happened if i had walked down a different path.

it got to the point that halfway through the story i started getting panicky, almost-nostalgia feelings. like that point in a big school year (last year of high school, last year of college, etc) where it's hitting february and you know it's going to end soon, but the thought is terrifying so you keep tying to push it to the back of your mind. i kept putting the book down because i didn't want "my first year" to end and that makes absolutely no sense at all but oh well.

it was one of those books that you pick up without fully knowing the importance of and finish with the feeling of "i really needed to read that book right now" even though you can't put your finger on exactly why. you just know that if you hadn't read it something bad would've (could've?) happened. although that might not happen with anyone else now that i think about it.

it also made me really wish that the simon snow saga was real because i need to read those books right now. fangirl has excerpts from both the simon snow books and cath's fanfictions thrown into it and i have never wanted a book to exist so bad before. i need to know what happens between these little scenes we're given. that is what my life has come to. i have books on my must-read-now list and characters that i care about that that do not even exist. sigh. it also made the harry potter nerd inside of me really sad that it missed out on a lot of fandom things. i never got to go to a midnight release of a book or movie, and i think that would have made my life.

there was one thing that really annoyed me, though. when cather is introducing her twin sister, wren, to her new college friends, this great line comes up: "'Our mom didn't know she was having twins,' Wren said. 'And she didn't feel like coming up with another name'" (pg 76). okay, these girls were born in 1993. (yes, i do feel old, thanks.) how is it possible that their mom didn't know she was having twins? did she never go to the doctor? did she not get a single ultrasound done? all i could think of was the lady on friends who has the kids monica and chandler adopt and her saying that whenever the doctor said "both heartbeats" she thought hers and the baby's. no one could possibly be that stupid. and then what? the dad couldn't think of a name either? the author could have easily said something like, she always wanted to name her first daughter catherine or something, and since she had a c-section (she did) she decided to just split the name between them. because i would rather just roll my eyes at that than go the rest of the book getting angry every time either of their names were mentioned. because, seriously? my suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

one thing that i really liked about the book's end was that cath didn't stop being a simon snow fan. the story kind of goes through her process of growing up, and parts of it hint that to do that she needs to let go of this whole simon snow/fanfiction obsession. there were times i was worried that she would come to realize that it was childish and just move on, but she doesn't. i mean, she does realize that other things are important too and she learns some balance, but her, wren, her roommate, and her boyfriend all go to the midnight release of the book and i loved that.

overall, is this the best book ever written? no.
will reading it change your life? probably not.
did i love it anyway? absolutely.

*If You're Gone - Matchbox 20


  1. anonymous hippopotamusSeptember 29, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    :D I loved this post, but I have no idea why. loool

    1. maybe because book talk is one of the best kind of talks ever.