This book GUTTED me. This book caused me to cry in the shower--not hyperbole or exaggeration, I leaked tears from my eyes while washing my hair, no lie. And I am not a fiction crier (real life crier, absolutely; mood swings galore). I squealed, I tingled, I flapped my hands, I cried out "No!" and I--literally--wept.
Gena/Finn is the story of two fangirls who find each other--and that amazingly perfect friendship--online. The story is by Hannah Moskowitz (whose History of Glitter and Blood I've been eager to read) and Kat Helgeson, and it's told through blog posts, chat logs, text messages, and some journal entries. It's about intense friendship, and finding the person who just fits you, and about fandom, and how people relate to the stories that move them.
Gena (pronounced Jenna, for Genevieve, and I'm telling you that because I'm still pronouncing it wrong in my head) is a superachieving high school senior who is a popular fandom blogger and fic author. Finn (for Stephanie) just graduated from college, is living with her boyfriend and trying to find a job and just kind of stumbling along in the real world. They're both enormous fans of a cop show called Up Below, which sounds kind of like if Supernatural were a crime drama more like Castle. Jake and Tyler, the detectives, have a close friendship, and our protagonists are "JakeGirls."
So here's the part where I point out that I'm in a fandom--and if the phrase "in a fandom" comes to you awkwardly, that's okay. If it doesn't--if it's something you'd use to describe yourself--then this book will sing to your soul. If that's not you, then what you're going to find here is an amazing, human, anthropologically fascinating rendition of the culture. I have written these exact comments and read these exact reviews. I have sent fannish chats to people whose online work I like and then written with them more and become kinda long distance friends (honestly, this is going on right now; it's both thrilling and kind of meta for me).
And I have absolutely made some of my best friends online, both vicariously (through a message board my husband belonged to and met up with--hi, Brenda!) and personally (I miss you, Sarah!). That tentative moment when you reach out to someone who you've only known silently, and the thrill when they reach back. That feeling when you meet someone and realize before you even know them well that hey, I think I want this person to be my best friend ever. And then it gets better and better when you're right. These experiences are some of the most emotionally important ones in my life, and they're here, with all the adrenaline of the real thing.
There are other important experiences that are here, both ones I've had and ones I've been spared--unemployment, mental illness, and being too young to be as independent as you are. This is not a light and fluffy story, and it's not just a friendship story either. It's a bit of a love story, and very much a growing up story, and very much about communities and our relationship with television.
And there are no villains, really, though there are jerks, and people who fail. And there are people who are trying so hard, and others who aren't trying hard enough.
Augh, this book. The feelings. I read it straight through, and I laughed out loud, and I cried, and I was so scared with the characters when everything was up in the air. I want to watch Up Below and read EvenIf's blog and be catty about TylerGirl93. It makes me love my fandom, and my friends, and it makes me think back onto things that happened when I was 19 and 20 and 21 and wonder what I would do differently and what I would do the same.
This gorgeous, marvelous book.