Although Cath and Wren are identical twins who’ve always shared a love of Simon Snow Books (think Harry Potter) as well as a bedroom, when they go away to the University of Nebraska for college, Wren wants to be more independent. Not only does she have another roommate, she lives in another dormitory and begins to keep secrets from Cath, particularly about partying and finding a new boyfriend.
Cath is more anxious than Wren. Her new roomie, Reagan, doesn’t seem to like her. With Wren—the sister she has clung to through their mother’s abandonment and their father’s manic depressive episodes—moving on, Cath becomes more and more involved in her fantasy world. She writes fan fiction about the Simon Snow series and is creating a love story for the two main characters. She’s good and her following is in the thousands. She hopes to complete her own version of Simon’s travails (Carry On) before the final book comes out.
Reagan is a few years older than Cath, but she’s still in the dorm as a part of her scholarship. She seems to have several boyfriends, but one who is hanging out all the time—Levi—is particularly interesting to Cath. Because Cath has been accepted into an advanced fiction writing class, she also finds herself meeting with a handsome classmate to write a romance together. And whether or not Cath wants it, the real world is at her door, in both its ugliness and beauty, its heartache, worry, responsibility, and its romance.
High school housekeeping: This is the second of Rowell’s books that I’ve read, and like most of her readers, I’m still impressed. This is equally as good as Eleanor and Park because Rowell has once again done a great job of characterization and showing teens how they might deal with issues in the real world. So—again—I just want to point out a novel with some very good writing that makes very compelling reading. Anyone who has been too anxious in new situations will immediately identify with Cath, who is the point-of-view character. One of the really fun things about the writing is that there is the story of Cath and Wren, but there are also interludes with the Simon Snow books and Cath’s Carry On fan fiction. It seems to me that Cath’s version of the Simon Snow story is superior fiction to the actual excerpts of Simon Snow books. Since all three of the plotlines (and the writing itself) are actually Rowell’s brain children, she’s hinting that Cath’s must learn to tell her own story. As we all must do.
This one is a real treat.