Cath and Wren are twin sisters, they’ve done everything together, including writing Simon and Baz fan fiction. Now they’re off to college but Wren wants to start doing things by herself. Forced to share a room with a stranger instead of her sister, Cath buries herself in the fictional world she loves so much. But is there time for coursework and Simon? And does Cath really need to socialise and make new friends when she’s got plenty online already?
Levi lived in a house, like an adult. Cath lived in a dorm, like a young adult – like someone who was still on adulthood probation.
The main relationship is really sweet and suitably slow and awkward to be completely believable. Falling asleep on other people’s bed in halls of residences was always a common occurrence when I was at university and it wasn’t always because you were drunk. Cath’s nervousness at going it alone and the simple things of college life is really well done; living off energy bars because she’s left it too long to find the cafeteria, not knowing what to do with the stranger she’s suddenly sharing a room with.
There was a lot going on in her family life. There’s a lot left unsaid but can be pieced together when you look back at what’s happened. Yet, sometimes it felt a bit all over the place, lots of threads that didn’t have the depth they deserved. Her father was an interesting case, coping with mental illness for most of it, and clearly a contribution to the break-up of their family, even if no one points the finger at him. They’re all too angry at the mother.
Wren’s determination to separate herself from her sister seemed a bit harsh. I guess siblings do grow apart but it didn’t fit with this girl who used to lovingly write fan fiction with Wren and helped hold her father together when they were little.
“You’re not a book person. And now you’re not an Internet person? What does that leave you?”
Levi laughed. “Life. Work. Class. The great outdoors. Other people.”
“Other people,” Cath repeated, shaking her head and taking a sip. “There are other people on the Internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.”
The fan fiction aspect didn’t win me over. I can understand why she used a fictional fandom but I would have preferred it to be something that existed. Simon and Baz were close enough to Harry Potter for people to be able to relate but different enough not to cause legal problems. But my brain struggled to really click with their world and the passages just interrupted the flow of the story. And Cath’s choice to hand in fan fiction as coursework was mind boggling.
I’ve never been the hugest fan of stories about writers and writing though. It’s just personal preference, and maybe I read more than enough writing stuff in real life, that I don’t want it in my fiction. There will plenty of people that will enjoy reading about Cath’s relationship with writing and relate to her special form of writer’s block. I did like her general geekiness though, there’s a lot of behaviour there I can nod my head at.
The thing about Rainbow Rowell’s books is that I do really enjoy them but the one I think I’ve enjoyed the most was the one people told me was her worst, Attachments. It’s all about expectations, isn’t it? I don’t think this is as good as Eleanor & Park, which is probably her best but as I said in my review, I was expecting something different and maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for that one when I read it. I’m looking forward to her next one, Landline, though especially as it has some stuff in the past again. I love her snippets of nostalgia.
Shelve next to: Roomies by Sara Zarr + Tara Altebrando
Book Source: Purchased