Rainbow Rowell is probably best known for her book Eleanor and Park which was something of an Internet publishing sensation. Kindred Spirits is a short story that was released specifically for World Book Day. My thirteen year old is a big fan of Rowell’s writing. I didn’t have time to read a full length novel, but in my attempts to support her reading and interact with her over the books she reads (she has, in recent years, turned into something of a reluctant reader), I managed to squeeze this in to my reading schedule.
I absolutely loved Kindred Spirits. Short stories are hard to pull off, but Rowell gets the balance just right here. It’s beautifully judged, nothing is wasted and it is a really satisfying read. It tells the story of Elena, an eighteen year old Star Wars nerd. Her ambition has always been to wait in line for a new Star Wars movie to come out, to be a part of something bigger than herself, to bond with her fellow geeks.
When the newest instalment of the movies comes out, she is determined to live her dream, even though, when she gets there, four days early, there are only two other people in the line. The story encapsulates the four days of Elena’s wait and the bond she makes with the two other people in line, one of whom is an uber obsessive geek called Troy, and the other of whom is a shy, mostly silent young man called Gabe.
This is a romantic book that has no real romance. It’s clever, funny, sharp and subtle. It’s a great portrayal of a female heroine who isn’t soppy, but who you root for anyway. Although Elena is eighteen there is nothing in this story I wouldn’t be happy for a younger reader to engage with. It’s the least romantic romance I’ve read and all the better for it. I’d recommend it for girls and geeks aged 10 and up.
On the strength of it, I shall be finding the time to read her longer work.