At first glance, Marla Miniano's Fan Girl has a similar plot to Summit's last book, Popped. They both feature girls who go to another country in pursuit of their celebrity crushes. But in tone and approach, both books cannot be any more different.
When Cosmopolitan Philippines commends Ms Miniano for her 'heart-wrenching angst,' I have to agree. Fan Girl's story begins in college, when Summer falls for Scott, the half-Pinoy frontman of a local band. Over the next few years, we are privy to all the things that Summer does for love -- the open relationship she agrees to, the devoted stalking, and even that momentous decision to leave everything behind and follow him to the US.
Summer's passion for Scott is all-consuming. She often fails to look beyond what she wants to see. She doesn't listen to reason. There were many times that I wanted to hit her in the head, but I think this is testament to how realistically her character is written. I've known plenty of girls who have let their lives revolve around a man; I suppose there were times when I was no exception either. I think that Ms Miniano does a great job of letting Summer's insecurities come to the forefront. She gives us hints of why Summer acts the way she does. After years of being relatively isolated from the world, you can really understand why she clings to any form of affection from Scott. She may not be the kind of girl I would normally root for but I think Fan Girl depicts an intensely vulnerable character with a hidden tenacity, one who is a pretty good mirror for a number of women today. I think that in its own way the book is both a defense and a rebuke of Summer, which can really leave you with something to think about.
Ms Miniano's writing has a very measured pace and an introspective tone. It is almost episodic in the beginning, giving us short chapters of Summer's life throughout college and the kind of relationship she has with Scott. The writing comes across as almost quiet -- there are no frantic celeb chases here, no big dramatic scenes -- and it's the kind of voice that I'm really drawn to when I read.
Fan Girl is a story of self-discovery, of choice and consequence. But it tells us that growing up doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes we really have to keep on repeating our mistakes before we learn, whether we're bright-eyed college freshmen or thirtysomething career professionals. Some truths we are just meant to discover ourselves.