Written by Kristen Kanaskie. Media by Madison Moran.
If you’ve stuck your head into a bookstore in the past four years or have kept up with the New York Times Best Sellers list, chances are you’ve come across the name Rainbow Rowell. As an audacious mother of two from Nebraska, Rowell has managed to publish four critically acclaimed novels since 2011—an incredible feat that has left many of us in awe of her ability to flawlessly weave in and out of several different genres while maintaining a steady readership. Needless to say, this woman has talent.
Rowell grew up never actually dreaming of being a writer, but somehow found herself becoming one. In an interview with The Guardian, she mentions that when she was young, she always wanted to be a librarian—“[she] liked the idea of being surrounded by books—and telling people what to read.” Ironically enough, through becoming a writer, Rowell has begun reconstructing the realm of fiction, covering a multitude of difficult themes with a relatable eloquence that many authors struggle to maintain–especially in young adult fiction. Although she has published two phenomenal adult fiction novels, titled Attachments and Landline, it is her work in young adult fiction that sets her apart.
In Eleanor & Park, her first Y.A. novel, Rowell confronts the themes of plus-sized protagonists, multiracial couples, abuse, and first love while effortlessly crafting the story of two teens who bond over punk rock on the bus. In the proceeding novel, titled Fangirl, she tells the coming of age story of two twins, Cather and Wren, while exploring the complexities of sisterhood, the transition into college, mental health, and divorce. The uniqueness of Rowell is that she has the ability to fearlessly wrestle through the uncomfortable aspects of adolescence in order to allow young readers to feel like they aren’t as alone, but her novels thoroughly appeal to an older audience as well. Very few authors have accomplished such a consistent and broad readership, but this is mainly attributed to her view of writing as a whole. She describes later on in the interview that over the span of time where she wrote Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline—approximately a year and a half– she wasn’t so much focused on her identity as an author, but was simply focused on writing what she wanted to write next. According to Rowell, Y.A. books do not necessarily lack quality, variety, or enlightenment in comparison to adult fiction books. With that sort of attitude, it’s no wonder that both Eleanor & Park and Landline have won “Best Fiction” awards, showing that Rowell can take on just about anything.
For those of you interested in reading her novels, get ready to fall in love with the turn of a page. And for those of you who are already dedicated fans, be on the lookout for her new novel, Carry On, being released this coming October.