Allison's Book Bag

A Midwest Columnist Turned YA Author

Posted on: March 20, 2014

RainbowRowellRainbow Rowell is very good at two things—reading and writing. In that way, she sounds like me. In reporting on Rowell, Bookreporter quips that people who are best at reading and writing (and who also want health insurance) study journalism. Here, the similarities end. You see, not only did Rowell earn a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but at age 24 she also became the youngest columnist at the Omaha World-Herald. Incidentally, she was also the first female columnist for the paper.

Author of three novels, Rowell first gained attention with Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. Both were chosen by The New York Times as being among the best young adult fiction of 2013. Rowell completed the first draft of Fangirl for National Novel Writing Month in 2011. It was chosen as the inaugural selection for Tumblr’s reblog book club. Eleanor & Park was also chosen in 2013 by Amazon as one of the 10 best books and as Goodreads’ best young adult fiction of the year.

This latter book has sparked controversy, which I’ll talk about in tomorrow’s post. I’ll also review it here on Saturday. Save the dates: March 21-22!

Most famous for her romance fiction, Rowell told Book Browse that she “didn’t have anything in high school as dramatic as what Eleanor and Park have”. While she did have a high school boyfriend whom she liked a lot, and they went to lots of indie movies and laser light shows, her love story is with my husband. The two met in the seventh grade and were close friends all through junior high, high school and college. Rowell shares that when the two finally confessed their feelings for each other, “it made everything that had come before seem like one long build-up. Like we’d been dancing around each other for eight years.”

In college, Rowell explains to Bethany Actually that because she didn’t drink, she spent a lot of time not fitting in. It was apparently especially difficult at the college newspaper, in that Rowell spent most of her free time there but didn’t party with anyone. “I was there for the fights and the melodramatics and the coups. But I missed out on all the stress relief, the drunken make-out sessions and the inside jokes.”

On the heels of her success as a novelist, Rowell left her job as a columnist at The Omaha Herald to write fiction full-time. Bookreporter notes that when she’s not writing, Rowell is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and “arguing with people about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things”. Rowell lives with her husband and two sons in Nebraska. Her next novel, Landline, will be for adults.

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