Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as thirty-nine authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!
About Kathryn Holmes
Kathryn Holmes grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was an avid reader and an aspiring writer from an early age. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and piles upon piles of books. A graduate of The New School’s MFA in Creative Writing program, Kathryn works as a freelance dance journalist, among other writing gigs. She is the author of The Distance Between Lost And Found and How It Feels To Fly.
It’s Fall 2000, maybe October or November. Saturday night. Past midnight.
I’m in my college dorm room — a double — alone.
Except I’m not alone. I’m at my computer. My online friends and I are dissecting the latest episodes of The X-Files. And we’re adding posts to the group fanfiction-as-roleplaying game we created. And I’m plotting out my own fanfiction. I’ve recently started watching La Femme Nikita, and I’m planning a story in which Mulder and Nikita cross paths and become unlikely allies.
By day, I’m a studious, quiet freshman with a heavy pre-double-major course load who’s starting, oh-so-slowly, to make new friends. But at night, online, I’m confident and outspoken and friend-full. I’ve only met a few of these people face to face. I don’t even know all of their given names. Still, they feel more real and more important to me than most of the people I’ve met so far at school. So, for that matter, do Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
Flash forward to 2013. I was already a Rainbow Rowell fan, thanks to Eleanor & Park. And then I bought Fangirl. I expected to enjoy it. What I didn’t expect was to see my college freshman self on almost every page.
Fangirl protagonist Cath Avery means the world to me because she is me. Or rather, I was her. Obsession with fictional characters from a long-running sci-fi/fantasy series? Check. Active fanfiction writer? Check. Difficulty explaining fanfiction to the “serious” writers in the college’s English department? Check. Feelings of inadequacy when asked to turn passion for writing toward original characters and plots? Check.
But my love for Cath isn’t just about writing and fandom. It’s also about, well, her.
I’ve always been an introvert. That said, I’m the type of introvert who thrives in certain social situations. Meeting a lot of new people all at once? Not one of those situations.
So when Cath hoards food to eat in her room rather than risk feeling overwhelmed and alone in the school cafeteria — I get it. When she melts down because her twin sister Wren, with whom she thought she would share the scary newness of freshman year, bails and finds a new BFF right away — I get it. Cath is terrified of being pushed out of her comfort zone, but she’s also anxious about being left behind. She doesn’t understand how everyone else, her sister included, has adapted so easily. It’s like there’s a social code she just can’t crack.
At 18, I was there. I felt like my peers had taken a course or been given a clue I’d missed. I wondered if there was something wrong with me when I couldn’t handle situations that seemed second nature to everyone else. I was good at the school part of school, but not the rest of it. My classmates partied on Saturday nights, reveling in their new parent-free lives; I drove to the local Barnes & Noble and stayed until closing. It’s not that I didn’t want to be social. It’s that I didn’t know how to start.
The not knowing — that’s what made me incredibly anxious. Sometimes, it still does.
But one last thing about Cath. I love that she gets to continue to be who she is (awkward and shy and prickly) and to love what she loves (Simon Snow) even as her world opens up. She gets her happy ending. She finds people who understand and accept her, and she begins to understand and accept herself, and she blossoms.
I wish I’d had her story in college. I’m glad I have it now.
Title How It Feels To Fly
Author Kathryn Holmes
Pages 368 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
To Be Published June 14th, 2016 by HarperTeen
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository
A struggle with body dysmorphia forces one girl to decide if letting go of her insecurity also means turning her back on her dreams.
Sam has always known she’d be a professional dancer — but that was before her body betrayed her, developing unmanageable curves in all the wrong places. Lately, the girl staring back at Sam in the mirror is unrecognizable. Dieting doesn’t work, ignoring the whispers is pointless, and her overbearing mother just makes it worse.
Following a series of crippling anxiety attacks, Sam is sent to a treatment camp for teens struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. Forced to open up to complete strangers, Sam must get through the program if she wants to attend a crucial ballet intensive later in the summer. It seems hopeless until she starts confiding in a camp counselor who sparks a confidence she was sure she’d never feel again. But when she’s faced with disappointing setbacks, will Sam succumb to the insecurity that imprisons her?
This compelling story from Kathryn Holmes examines one girl’s efforts to overcome her worst enemy: herself.