In them, I found understanding and solace, enthralling plot lines, and places where I felt at home. I also found community, other fangirls, and inspiration to pick up my pen and keep writing. Here's what I love most about Rainbow Rowell's books:
I can't think of a Rainbow Rowell book where I didn't laugh. Beth and Jennifer in Attachments, Scotty in Landline, and Baz in Carry On kept me laughing with their one-liners and shenanigans.
Lincoln & Beth in Attachments. Art by Irena Freitas.
“Imagine—you're a pixie, and you have a daughter, and you name her Trixie. Trixie the pixie. [...] It’s like being a fairy named Mary,” he goes on. “Or a vampire named Gampire,” I say. “Gampire isn’t even a proper name, Snow. You’re terrible at this game.”
— Rainbow Rowell, Carry On
Levi in Fangirl. Art by Simini Blocker. Purchasable here.
It's really obvious to me that these books come straight from the heart and really go deep. Both Eleanor's and Park's family situations and Georgie's marriage are two particular examples of this, but basically every Rainbow book is heartfelt. I really feel the emotion and meaning behind every word, like the author's heart and soul were poured into the pages.
"Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."
— Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park
Left: Eleanor and Park. Art by Simini Blocker.
The stories are well-crafted, and so are the characters. While no book is without its flaws, I find that Rainbow Rowell's characters and the situations they encounter are both extremely relatable. I love both from the very first page.
“He kissed her like he was drawing a perfectly straight line. He kissed her in India ink.”
― Rainbow Rowell, Landline
Quote from Landline. Art by Jen. Download this wallpaper here.
“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”
― Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl
Simon & Baz from Carry On. Art by Leela Wagner. Purchasable here.
Sometimes I get so caught up in Rainbow Rowell's worlds that I forget that they're "just a book." Even when a co-worker is reading illicit emails or there's a magical telephone involved, I always believe in it. They feel so undeniably real to me, and I get lost in their pages. Those kinds of books are my absolute favorites.
And I'm not the only one who feels this way--Rainbow Rowell has a whole community of fellow fans who pour their love for her books into fan posts, tweets, and... well, fan art, as I'm sure you can tell from this post. A lot of the fan art has even been collected and made into merchandise and incorporated into her books. This print of Eleanor and Park was one of the first exposures I ever had to the couple. And it's all thanks to Rainbow Rowell's fantastic writing and how real she makes these books seem. Her readers can't help but show their appreciation and thanks in the outpouring of this art as they try to make these characters come to life.
Eleanor and Park. Art by Simini Blocker.
The realness of these books is probably because their author, who lives in Nebraska, is dedicated to writing about life in all its messy, real glory. According to the about page on her website, "Sometimes she writes about teenagers. Sometimes she writes about adults. But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love."
And does she write about those things? Absolutely, yes. Does she make them seem absolutely, 100% real? In so many different ways. In the big, romantic gestures and in the smallest of moments, she succeeds in making them feel so real and so important.
“I didn't know love could leave the lights on all the time.” ― Rainbow Rowell, Attachments
Rainbow Rowell's books are honest, down-to-earth, and relatable... and each of them helped and changed me a little bit more. I've found myself in each of Rainbow Rowell's heroes and heroines. In Cath, I found an anxious yet valuable heroine who was so much like me--thanks to Fangirl, I felt understood. In Eleanor from Eleanor & Park, I found a heroine with the same body type as me with an intense penchant for 80s music. In Lincoln from Attachments, I found an idealist, a fellow hopeless romantic (and in Beth and Jennifer, I found two best friends). In Georgie from Landline, I found a writer who sometimes felt very lost and clung too much to the past like I do. In Simon Snow, I found someone who went along with what everyone else wanted for him... for a while... which is something I very much related to. In the pages of every single Rainbow Rowell book, I found myself. That's a gift I'm incredibly grateful for.
“I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to carry on. As I am.”
― Rainbow Rowell, Carry On
L-R Beth from Attachments, Eleanor from Eleanor and Park, Cath from Fangirl, and Georgie from Landline. Art by Irena Freitas.
Have you read any of Rainbow Rowell's books? What's your favorite book and character?