I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
Cath and her twin sister Wren have been fans of the Simon Snow books for years. (think "Harry Potter") The two sisters are now heading off to college and Wren is ready to reinvent herself while Cath is petrified of all the new social obstacles ahead. When Wren decides to room with someone other than her twin, Cath must learn to deal with a complete stranger as her roommate. Finding college to be especially difficult for an almost phobic introvert, Cath often find herself retreating in her world of Simon Snow fanfiction where her stories about a gay romance between Simon Snow and his nemesis Baz (think "Harry Potter" and "Draco Malfoy") have gathered a huge fan following over the years. While quite a few people try to draw Cath out including her roommate, a fellow writing class student and even her writing professor, Cath prefers to retreat in the fantasy fanfic world of Simon Snow. But when things start falling apart at home and Cath meets a real-life guy who may be the match of the fictional Simon Snow in her life, all bets are off.
This is a really sweet young adult offering that captures what college can be like for those who aren't as socially-inclined. I think Cath is a wonderful character and you can't help but root for her as she learns to navigate not only the challenges of college but also the changing relationships that she has with her high school boyfriend, her sister and her father. I thought it was a really charming book although I felt that it ended too abruptly. It seemed like there should have been more.
I hope that Rainbow Rowell will revisit these characters in a sequel. I'd love to hear more about Cath and all the people in her world (both fictional and real).
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Charming young adult offering that will appeal to adults as well.
PARENTAL ADVISORY with spoilers:
Cath deals with complex issues arising from entering college and becoming an adult. Her father struggles with mental illness and her sister becomes an alcoholic who nearly dies of alcohol poisoning. Cath also struggles with her own feelings of desire and fear of physical intimacy when she gets involved in a relationship. While there is nothing explicit in terms of sex, it IS mentioned along with college underage drinking.