Just because it’s not raining doesn’t mean I can’t have a rainy reading day. And it’s been nice to mix things up a bit with some buzz-worthy YA novels and a popular memoir.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell has made quite a name for herself in the YA circle with two books released last year. I also have to say, that YA, in general, is having a real heyday with great titles being released regularly. I knew I’d have to check some out. Fangirl is the story of Cath who has been obsessed, or engulfed, in the Simon Snow series since its release when she was a pre-teen. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I’m sure a lot of us can relate. Cath doesn’t just read the books and create memes. She also writes a very popular fanfic that has gained a huge following. But now, she’s in college at a big school a few hours away from home. Her twin sister is embracing college life, while Cath doesn’t even know where the dining hall is. She worries about her father, and she can’t get rid of her roommate’s best friend, who eats her granola bars and waits for her to let him in, even though he’s never read a Simon Snow book. He’s only watched the movies (gasp). Slowly, Cath starts to come out of her shell, but it takes some rough transitions to get there. I totally remember being overwhelmed by college, even though I went to a small school. I didn’t have a roommate, I was nervous about making friends, and I was straight-laced. I mean, that just screams party, right? Rowell tells such a relatable story about the challenges of a first-time college student, and the difficulty of making yourself known in the real world. I loved it. 4/5
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I immediately picked up Eleanor & Park after reading Fangirl. Eleanor is new. She’s tall, has big, curly red hair, and manages to put together outfits that attract a lot of attention. Park has always been there. He’s quiet and lays low, trying very much not to attract attention, and his safety lies in the fact that he’s a kid from the neighborhood- a kid everyone knows. When Park lets Eleanor sit next to him on the bus, they start a silent friendship, that buds into a first love. Eleanor’s never experienced someone being so kind. She has to fend for herself, even though that means often leaving her younger brothers and sister behind. And Park has to open up and defend Eleanor to everyone because she doesn’t look or act like any girl out there. Their love is so full and sweet and emotional. Rowell completely captured the angst of teenage love, and the struggles of being different. This isn’t just a simple story of teenage love. Every step feels complicated and difficult. But it’s really tender, and I felt like my heart grew a size, and I may have shed a tear or two. It’s so good! 4.5/5
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This has been on my TBR list for a long time. I tried reading it when it came out, and I couldn’t get into it, so I thought I’d table it for a little while. Cheryl Strayed lost her mother at 22 to a quick and brutal battle with cancer. She went on to ruin her marriage, get involved in drugs, and decide to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, on her own. Most of the story-telling is Strayed’s day-to-day on the trail, the difficulties of carrying your life on your back, and the fears that can get you when you’re hiking alone. But it also flashes back to the complicated moments in Strayed’s history, her abusive father, her family’s small house in the woods, and the dissolution of her marriage to her best friend. Along the way, she loses things, gains friends, and struggles to keep money in her pocket, especially in the face of a Snapple lemonade. I will admit that I am not outdoorsy. I didn’t know how much I could relate to this story. I literally cringed at some of the tales. But I can appreciate when anyone takes on a challenge and opens up to some soul-searching. I was surprised at the many negative reviews, chastising the author for messing up her marriage and taking on a risky journey with little experience. But I don’t think that Strayed is naive in her telling of these things. She makes it pretty clear that there were problems with her actions. Also, this is not a wilderness guide. This is one young woman’s story of her own re-emergence, her own discovery, and forgiveness. She’s really open and honest and brutal about things she’s experienced. And it was a good read. 3.5/5
What are you reading?