Grace and the Fever, by Zan Romanoff
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Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Length: 352 pages
Times Read: Once
Rating: Nobody told me about this one for a YEAR?? It took a YEAR for me to find out how amazing it is??
In middle school, everyone was a Fever Dream fan. Now, a few weeks after her high school graduation, Grace Thomas sometimes feels like the only one who never moved on. She can’t imagine what she’d do without the community of online fans that share her obsession. Or what her IRL friends would say if they ever found out about it.
Then, one summer night, the unthinkable happens: Grace meets her idol, Jes. What starts out as an elusive glimpse of Fever Dream’s world turns into an unlikely romance, and leads her to confront dark, complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom.
What I Liked: I noticed this author when she debuted in 2016, but her first book was tagged as magical realism which typically doesn’t do it for me. She sadly dropped off the radar for me which is CRIMINAL because I am pretty sure this book was WRITTEN for me, okay.
♥ The Dedication. “For my first loves: Ike, Tay, and Zac. And for all the girls on the internet.” If you’re too young to know who that is, here they are in all their early glory.
Would you be shocked to learn that I was a HUGE Hanson fangirl back in the day? Should you ever want to steal my identity, one of my go-to passwords still comes from their 1998 concert documentary, The Road to Albertane.
Most people read this as an ode to 1D, and maybe it is, but for me it’s so much of my Hanson days. I’ll get into it more a little later, but damn this really brought back a lot for me.
♥ Grace. Here’s the best thing about Grace in this story–she isn’t one of the girls we so often see in books and movies that’s just somehow never heard of whatever celebrity she runs across, or has never listened to that band, and all her friends love them but hahaha isn’t it so funny and so cute and so endearing that she hasn’t?
That’s not Grace. Grace is a Fan.Girl. She’s pretty well known in the Fever Dream community, she has a lot of friends in the fandom, and she’s a particular ‘shipper of a very specific pair from the band (Lolly. More on them later).
So the thing about Grace–she’s the girl we all wanted to be. We dreamed that what happened to her would happen to us. She happened onto Jes one night in her neighborhood, knew exactly who he was, played it cool, and he started asking her to hang out. With him. With the band. With the band and their friends. With the band and their team. All of a sudden she’s just in with them.
♥ Jes. I am not fluent in 1D, so I can’t tell you who Jes is supposed to be. But I adored his character in the book. He wanted so much to be normal, but also to make the band work, to keep the group together, to help everything continue.
♥ Lolly–A fan-created theory that Fever Dream members Land and Solly are a closeted gay couple.
When this first started to be a thing in the book, I was annoyed. If they are, they are, and who cares? But the more Lolly was explained, the more I got it.
The theory is that they’re not closeted by choice, but rather by their management team so that they remain desirable while (very quietly, very gently) unreachable to their largely teen girl market. In this way, Lolly shippers see themselves mirrored back–a young queer person who’s being told to sit down, told to be silent. Told that the grown-ups will handle things. The shippers aren’t having it, and they don’t want Lolly to have to, either.
(And the tattoos…I don’t want to say anything until you’ve read it, but the tattoos…)
♥ The fandom.
The internet was only starting to become a big thing back when Hanson arrived on scene and I took up devoting about 22 hours a day to them, but even I ventured into some sketchy chat rooms and posted on a few self-hosted blogs with concert recaps. This was all while sharing one desktop computer in my family of seven and having to beg someone to get off the phone so I could use the line to dial into the internet, then hope that no one picked it up and kicked me off before I was done. I can only imagine what it’s like now, having access to your fandom 24/7, right at your fingertips, without anyone else seeing what you were doing.
The concept of growing out of your fandom is a theme in the book as well. Grace is the only one of her IRL friends who’s still into Fever Dream, and that makes it hard for her to feel like she can really be herself around them. Her online friends get her so much better, but so few people consider those to be actual friends. I feel like this is something we in the blogging and the bookish community understand well. Many of us talk all the time, but have never met. Or maybe we see each other once a year at a convention, but don’t get together to hang out otherwise. Patricia over at Bookish Geek was one of the first people I told when I got laid off a few weeks ago, but we live across the country from each other and have never even met IRL. These relationships make sense to us, and it was so nice to see them made real in a book, to see them represented with respect.
What I Didn’t: Why is there not a huge backlist by this author for me to work through now?
⊗ The 3rd person POV. This works great for me in fantasy, but not as well in contemporary for some reason. In this one in particular, it felt jarring every time I opened the book up again.
Favorite Quotes: “All that possibility means there’s nothing left for him to dream about. If he wants it, he can have it. And then what?”