This is another "young adult" novel, I guess.
I read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell at the end of last year and found it absolutely charming and simultaneously heartbreaking. Rowell is an author who very much understands teenagers and how they think.
Fangirl is honestly a book that I very much relate to. It's about a girl, Cath Avery, who is just heading to college. Her twin sister Wren wants to distance herself from Cath a little bit and start her own life. That leaves Cath by herself in a dorm room with a roommate who comes and goes at all hours. On top of that, her roommate's boyfriend (or friend, Cath isn't really sure) keeps hanging out in their dorm even when her roommate is gone.
Cath has trouble connecting with people in person. She would rather spend all her free time in front of her computer writing fan fiction. Cath is a well-known author of fan fiction for a book series about Simon Snow, which is basically like Harry Potter with the whole magic kids at a magic school thing. She is well-known in this fandom and her fiction is read by thousands of Simon Snow fans from across the globe.
This book is basically about Cath coming to terms with college, her family, and learning to branch out and make friends through actual human contact.
Although Cath and I are in some ways very different, I related to this character more than I've related to any character in a very long time. Our family lives are totally different and I haven't written fan fiction since high school, but that's definitely where I started with writing. My FanFiction.Net profile still exists and sometimes I go back to it to reminisce/laugh at my teenage self.
Beyond a love of writing, Cath and I have very similar personalities when it comes to interacting with people. There was this point where Cath was thinking about how glad she was that her dorm was pretty much empty, how she preferred to be alone, etc. At one point, Cath is too afraid to go to the dining hall by herself and she ends up just eating a bunch of protein bars, one of which she takes to the bathroom to eat so her roommate doesn't see.
I feel like part of Cath's issue is self-esteem, but the majority of it seems like good old fashioned social anxiety. I've diagnosed myself with social anxiety disorder. I'm like 99% sure I have it. The thought of meeting new people and having to interact with them socially makes me incredibly, incredibly nervous. And I think that Rowell did a great job at explaining the emotions behind that kind of fear.
Of course, Cath does open up throughout the book. It wouldn't be a young adult novel if there wasn't a lot of growing on the part of the protagonist. I really just think the world of this author for presenting such real characters. Between this book and Eleanor and Park, I am just completely in awe.
So that is my first quarter of the year book update. Has anyone read any of these? Any recommendations for me? I have 45 books to read over the next 9 months so I'll take any suggestions I can get!