This was my third Rainbow Rowell novel of the year, and a delight just like the other two. In this case, the story focuses on Cath. She and her twin sister are starting their freshmen year of college, and it involves a lot of changes that Cath was not prepared for. While the sisters have always been close and attached at the hip, only Cath assumed this would continue in college while Wren wants to work on being her own person and finding identity separate from her sister.
Cath keeps mostly to herself and focuses on writing fan fiction of Simon Snow, a huge phenomenon in the world of the novel, similar to Harry Potter in the real world. While Cath focuses on writing and establishing a routine that involves little interaction with people, Wren becomes a party girl, leading to a huge argument between the sisters. It doesn't help that they also have some family issues that are reemerging - her father has had a breakdown before and Cath worries about his ability to care for himself, and both girls also are still impacted by their mother's abandoment of them when they were much younger.
Cath's roommate Reagan, an older and more experienced student, takes pity on Cath and integrates her into her social life to an extent. Levi, Reagan's boyfriend, is over all the time, and he, too, makes Cath his project. Between the two of them, Cath slowly adjusts to college life but still has to face quite a few decisions on her own, such as how important her fan fiction is to her, and whether she is willing to let it go to create her own writing.
I love how Rowell can take simple stories and make them so interesting and relatable. Literally every other time I read YA, it involves some type of hook, or dystopian, post-apocalyptic society. It is rare that I pick up anything that is simply about the present day. And yet, I love what Rowell does, and how interested she can make me in these characters even when they aren't facing life and death situations. I can't wait to read Rowell's next novel, especially since her first novel, which was also adult fiction rather than YA, is still my favorite of hers.