I’d previously picked up Attachments purely because of its’ beautifully indie cover art, and I really loved that book. It wasn’t about high school freshman; it was about the post-college/university years, which is something I’m currently experiencing, rather than when I actually read it in my final year at university. The thing that Rowell does so well is creating realistic fictional love interests, they’re not all muscles and good looks, and they rarely fit in the moulds of the “good guy best friend” or the “dangerous rebel guy”, I mean these characters do crop up within the narrative but they are never the ONE. Lincoln is our main character in Attachments and he’s a nerdy IT specialist who reads the e-mails of two women working in the office, and it’s a lovely story about how he slowly falls in love with one of them. Rainbow Rowell gives me a happy ending with that one, it doesn’t come without a struggle so that’s a legitimate happy ending. However, with her next two novels Eleanor and Park and Fangirl she leaves me hanging with these endings that are neither happy nor sad. I was trying to explain to a friend what it is exactly that keeps me coming back to these novels, they’re never that climatic in fact they’re quite anticlimactic, but the characters feel so real that you want to check in on their lives every so often. That is why this a book that I’d never have read in one go, this took me around 2 weeks to read on and off. Now, back to Fangirl, it’s about Cath who is just starting university but she’s got a few minor struggles. She’s the anti-social twin, cosied up in the room dreaming of being locked in a library, while her twin sister Wren gets stuck into the party scene, getting drunk and mostly getting into trouble. Cath has this uber-cool seeming roommate Reagan who initially comes across as a little mean, but in the end she’s cool. The great thing about Cath, and this novel’s ability with connecting with a modern audience, is her hobby: she writes fan-fiction about Simon Snow, which will most definitely remind you of the never-dying love for Harry Potter which has surrounded the last decade. Then there’s Levi. Levi, like Lincoln in Attachments and Park in Eleanor and Park, is so three dimensional I almost think he’s a real character. At first, we think he is Reagan’s boyfriend, but not really he’s just good friends with her since being her high school boyfriend. He works at Starbucks, which makes you think ugh what a hipster freak with his coffee facts, but actually making pumpkin spice lattes for free is actually pretty endearing. He’s quite a fair bit older than Cath, but he sees something in her and loves her Simon Snow obsession, despite the fact that Levi struggles with reading. There’s a lovely moment where Cath reads a whole book out loud to him and they share a tiny kiss before falling asleep together, it’s so cute. This is later echoed in the last part of the book where Cath reads the final Simon Snow novel aloud to him. Rainbow Rowell gives us an ending with the hope of happiness, which is brilliant. I am still feeling pretty bitter about the ending to Eleanor and Park, actually more than bitter- I’m desperately sad, and desperately seeking more.
So, whether you’re already at university this Autumn or have left education quite a while ago, Cath’s journey and Levi’s three-dimensional character will leave the taste of pumpkin spice latte in your mouth.