Friday, March 21, 2014

Rainbow Rowell, you are my new favorite!

Eleanor and ParkFangirlAttachments

I have recently read the three Rainbow Rowell books currently published and I LOVED them. I am still trying to figure out why.

It all started with Eleanor and Park. It is a YA book that had been getting a lot of buzz lately and being a high school librarian I just had to read it, you know, because it is my job. Yes, I DO have one of the best jobs ever!

I read it over winter break in two days, it would have only taken me one day if I didn't have a husband and kids and the fact that I was at my in-laws and needed to make appearances now and then.  I am still trying to figure out why I liked the book so much. It felt real but it didn't, I connected with the characters but they were not me. I really liked how the characters connected through music but not in a pretentious sort of way. I loved seeing Eleanor and Park's relationship grow.

Next up was Fangirl. I read the book again over two days, staying up until midnight to finish it. This book follows Cath and her twin sister Wren as they navigate thier first year of college. Cath is still wrapped up in a fandom that she loves and writing fanfiction about her beloeved characters. She tries to stay hidden from people and be invisible. Wren on the other hand is living what we see as the typical college life, partying.  Again, why did I like this book so much? Why did I sacrifice some sleep over it? I do not know. I liked the characters and the story was interesting. Even though I find her characters living very different lives than I do they still resonate with me.

Just this week I read Attachments. The premise is kind of strange, this guy named Lincoln is hired by a comany as an IT person and learns later that he has to read flagged email and send warning to people. He is not comfortable with this part of his job but having this job will allow him to move out of his mother's house and hopefully "get a life". One day he started getting flagged email from conversations between Jennifer and Beth and, like us the reader, he becomes intrigued with their conversations and kind of cyber-stalks them and ends up having feelings for one of the women. Somehow, Rowell makes us root for Lincoln and somehow this book has a hopeful ending.

In the end, my quest to find out why I love these books so much is similar to my quest to find out why I like some books over others. Why do I read fiction? What is it I am expecting?

Here are some of my conclusions:

1. Mood is important - There are times when I am just not in the mood for a fantasy book or a teen book or a deep book. Paying attention to what grabs my attention at any given moment significantly affects my opinion of the book. I do not read a lot of realistic fiction (at least not nearly as much as my students do) so when I do finally pick one up I am usually pleasantly surprised. When it comes to fantasy, it just has to be a stellar book because I read more of that genre.

2. I read fiction as an escape. A lot of times I like to imagine myself as one of the characters. Whether they are like me or not, I need to feel a connection with someone in the story.

3. I need a hopeful ending. Not necessarily happy but hopeful.

Not everyone is going to love these books. I can't give them 5 stars because I realize I am a bit biased when it comes to these book. I read them for fun, not to judge and since I had fun reading them then they are awesome books in my humble opinion. She writes deep characters that I can identify with and understand. She writes in a language that I understand. Combine that with an interesting or unique plot and a hopeful ending and you have a book (or books) that I want to keep reading. Rainbow Rowell, you are my new favorite.

4 stars for all three...please don't ask me which one was my favorite!

P.S. Can I just say that I think it is interesting that Eleanor and Park is high school, Fangirl is college, Attachments is about post-college adults (20s) and her new book Landline (July, 2014) is about mid-life. She is currently writing a graphic novel (eek!!!) so I'm guessing it will be middle school? One thing is for sure, I will be reading them all!