Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz, Kat Helgeson
Published on May 17, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.
Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.
“the truth is
loving someone isn’t a period
it’s a semi-colon”
I have a terrible habit of underestimating contemporary novels. I picked up Gena/Finn anticipating a fun, light-hearted read. The first half of the story is quirky and cute; the girls’ awkward emails and inside jokes are entertaining. But, the second half is a lot less fluffy and playful–it’s intense and honest as hell. And, that’s what I loved most about this book. The characters are relatable, with complicated, messy lives. There are no easy, definite answers to their problems. Gena/Finn is a too real, beautiful story about a friendship that “burn[s] bright and hard and full of love.”
Gena/Finn is told through text messages, emails, IMs, and journal entries. I fell in love with this style of storytelling last year when I read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (and again when I picked up Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae). This new format is innovative and allows readers to interact with narrative and characters in a new, yet familiar, way. With Gena/Finn, I especially liked the character’s blog posts about their favorite television show, “Up Below“. This book’s depiction of the fandom world is more than accurate. As someone who has spent hours scrolling through Tumblr posts about her favorite shows and reading various fanfics of said shows and dreaming of going to conventions, I can tell that the authors definitely did their research. They captured the atmosphere of fandom–the creativity, the community (trolls included), and the love–perfectly.
And then there are the characters. I felt pretty invested in both Gena and Finn’s storylines. I laughed with them, stressed with them, and (almost) cried with them. And, I found bits and pieces of myself scattered in each character (in Gena’s anti-social tendancies and Finn’s patient devotion).
The only thing that bothered me about Gena/Finn was that the ending felt unresolved. I was left with way too many questions about the girls’ futures. For standalones like this, I want definitive answers. I need to know what happens. Can someone please write me a fanfic that offers some resolution? ;)
Gena/Finn is a touching story of love and loss, of family and friendship, and of connections near and far. If you’re in the mood for some contemporary, for something short and sweet and different and thoughtful, I recommend Gena/Finn. And, if you’re a diehard fangirl, you should consider picking this up, too. I’m sure you’ll find yourself in this story somewhere.
“loving someone means whatever you decide it means
that’s the choice
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