Finding an author that you love is always great because when you love their writing style, it's likely that you'll find something to enjoy about each book they write. It's as if a trust forms between the two of you, and in times when a good book is needed, you know exactly where to look. For some people it may be JK Rowling, Stephen King, Cassandra Clare, or Rick Riordan, but for me no one quite compares to Rainbow Rowell.
Rowell has the ability to capture my heart as a reader in the simplest of ways. Her characters feel like real, normal people. The dialogue within her novels is composed of the kind of things that I've likely thought to myself at one point or another, and the plotlines follow the lives of characters that I feel I could very well know. Rowell pays the perfect amount of attention to detail - enough to draw me right in just a few pages. Her stories have made me laugh out loud and angrily thump my fist into the nearest cushion. I have even quickly shut her books in the hopes such an action might protect the characters from harm. Of course, I never do any of this in public because that would be embarassing...
So what are these books that provoke such emotions in me? Rowell has many published works (in no particular order): Fangirl, Carry On, Eleanor & Park, Attachments, Landline, among others. Let's unpack, shall we?
Eleanor & Park
This title won the Michael L. Printz Award Honor book for excellence in young adult literature, and it is an award winner for many reasons. The story follows the heartwarming relationship between Eleanor and Park, both of them "flawed" in personality and looks (like we all are), flawed for reasons that are outside their control. Together, their awkward and fitting love becomes the crutch of strength that helps the other stay strong through very confusing times. Rowell touches on issues of domestic abuse, bullying, and body image. For all of the dark content explored in this novel, there are also laugh-worthy, light-hearted elements too! This book is a wonderful balance of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I highly recommend it.
Boy, was this a cute, fun, giggle-worthy, and fast read for me! It has the same feel as an early 2000s chick-flick, the ones likely starring Matthew McConaughey in some big city. Surely you can picture one of those Cameron Diaz or Kate Hudson movies, with their light-hearted flair for unique but not impossible drama, where navigating the shrinking dating pool is the problem at hand for the almost-30-year-olds. Well, although I could go on and on about those chick flicks, let me just say that Attachments is composed of all those sort of feel-good movie moments.
Taking place in the year 1999, Rowell writes a story about Lincoln, the recently hired Internet Security Officer of a newspaper, who never expected that his job would actually be reading through the emails of his fellow employees, among them Beth and Jennifer, two friends trekking through adult life. In the midst of their workdays, they unapologetically squeeze in more than a few personal emails to each other - emails that get flagged and then read by Lincoln, but not reported like he has done with other employees. Instead, he finds himself entertained and fascinated by them, to the point where he starts to feel like he knows these women. When he starts to fall for Beth, he wonders if and how he could possibly introduce himself. You’ll have to read this fantastic book to find out what happens. I loved it and I recommend it to anyone who appreciates a contemporary rom-com.
This was the first book by Rainbow Rowell that I ever read, completing it right before beginning University - fitting since the main character, Cath, was about to do just that. Cath is setting off to college with her twin sister Wren, leaving behind their single father. Despite all of the challenges that Cath faces - saying goodbye to her dad, losing her sister to college life, getting along with her tough-love roommate, meeting new people - there is one thing that remains the same: a love of fanfiction writing. Cath is a huge Simon Snow fan, and in her world, Simon Snow is to her what Harry Potter is to us. She loves everything about the Simon Snow book series, and is even the most well-known fanfiction writer with thousands reading her story, "Carry On, Simon." Cath is determined to finish her story before the author releases the eighth and final book, but between college courses, boy problems, family emergencies, and coming into her own, more than just her fanfiction deadline is catching up to her. This book is an amazing 5 out of 5 stars for me. Highly recommended, and probably my favourite Rowell book thus far.
As a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell, I was thrilled when she announced that she would be expanding on the world of Simon Snow into a full length young adult fantasy novel. As previously mentioned, Simon Snow played a large role in Cath’s life from Fangirl. Getting Simon all to ourselves in his own world with his own set of problems was a dream come true! Along with Simon Snow, you also get Baz, his annoying, practically perfect, and possibly evil roommate, who Simon is stuck with for eight years because that’s just how it is at Watfords School of Magicks.
Simon thinks that he is the worst chosen one there ever was (and Baz agrees), but he is also the only one who can defeat the Insidious Humdrum, a magic-eating monster that is threatening the lives of all Magicks. Along with a great cast of characters who make this story irresistible, Simon must fight through ghosts, solve mysteries, battle evil-doers, all the while coping with the problems that plague a teenager: love life, stubborn friends, and doing well in school. Carry On is a really sweet story, and I can’t wait to re-read it. You can read it on its own, but I found it much better to read Fangirl first where you are originally introduced to Simon Snow.
I haven’t read this one yet, but you can sure bet that it’s on my "To Be Read" list. Georgie McCool feels that her marriage is in trouble, and doesn’t exactly know what to do. She doesn’t want to divorce because she still does love Neal, but for the sake of her family, she wants her marriage to be filled with the love it once had. After letting her husband know that she won’t be travelling with him or the children to his parents' place for a family gathering, something strange happens. Just when her soul searching time is about to begin, she finds a way to communicate with her husband from the past, through (surprise!) a landline. This could be her chance to right some wrongs and make things better, but is that what Georgie really wants? If this book is anything like Rowell’s others, I know that it will be excellent!
My True Love Gave to Me & Kindred Spirits
Rainbow Rowell also has two short works of fiction. The first is a story called "Midnights," and it is featured in a YA anthology entitled My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Rowell’s contribution is a cute love story between Mags and Noel, told over the course of several New Year’s Eve’s.
Rowell's other short fiction is entitled "Kindred Spirits," and was released on National Book Day. It’s only available in ebook except for those lucky few who celebrated National Book Day at a convention with Rowell. The story follow a group of Star Wars nerds who are lining up outside the movie theatre for the newest film in the franchise. Here, Rowell explores the bond that people share when they are crazy about the same things, and how differences are sometimes okay to be overlooked, especially when what they have in common is so much greater.
In my opinion, Rainbow Rowell's writing offers something for everyone, and I always eagerly await her newest release. I hope that other young adult readers can find the same joy in her books that I have.