CW’s: Panic Attacks, Alcoholism
For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.
Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
Why I Loved I Was Born for This
“Most adults see teenagers as confused kids who don’t understand much, while they’re the pillars of knowledge and experience and know exactly what is right at all times. I think the truth is that everyone in the entire world is confused and nobody understands much of anything at all.”
It gets teenagers right & offers a lot of representation. Sometimes you just feel that an author has no idea about how teens actually talk and behave, so reading this book was very refreshing. Alice Oseman truly gets how teenagers think and therefore her books are so authentic and resonant. She truly portrays young adults in the right way and understands how they feel about music, fandom, friendships, first live and self-discoveries. That’s why her characters shine and are so relatable to many readers out there. This is how you do YA contemporary right! The book was also very diverse, we have Angel who is Muslim, Jimmy is mixed-race, gay and trans, Rowan I think is Nigerian and Lister is bisexual & struggling with alcoholism.
The main character Angel and the representation of anxiety was fantastic. I related to her so much and honestly had so many scenes and sentences tabbed, that resonated with me. Angel has anxiety and she’s not really good with people, leading to a lot of scenarios that I had experienced myself and therefore meant a lot to me. Adding to that she was also a member of a fandom, which just reignited my love for her. I really felt for her all the time, especially when things with her online friend who she now meet in real life got a lot more complicated. I totally understand her being freaked out by suddenly another guy joining them without notice, because I truly cannot deal with that myself. I like plans, so when they are disrupted, I’m a ball of anxiety and always feel so awkward. I also loved her friendships with the other girls featured, they warmed my heart and totally validated online friendships!
I also loved the discussion about her passion for the band overtaking her life. Not everyone will agree, but being in fandoms myself I know how all-encompassing this love for something can be, to the point where it overtakes life. This is something that makes you feel safe, that gets you through day after day and is the life raft you cling to when you think you can‘t go on. So I fully understand the appeals and the author did such a good job explaining and showing through Angel that perspective is important, that no matter how much we love fandom, we cannot let it be the only thing in our life. This is very difficult and true, as fandom for me has often taken over, when life was difficult and I felt alone & I could feel it being one of my sole passions at the moment. We also see Angel underhand that her favorites have cracks, that not everything what you love will be unproblematic or perfect. It‘s a hard lesson to learn as this thing you love means the world to you, it has so much potential personal value that it‘s hard to critique. I always try to do that with what I love, but it‘s never easy. You know what you love had flaws and might even be problematic in aspects It’s hard to come to terms to those especially if this thing you love was there for you when you felt all alone. When looking back you realize that this was what saved you and kept you going. All right, this has gotten way too emotional & made me tear up, but Angel‘s character progression and her relationship with fandom meant a LOT to me.
💗 I also loved reading about Jimmy, as his POV contrasted Angel’s. He is a member of the band Angel is a fan of and also struggling with anxiety. Jimmy is a very relatable character as well and through his eyes we see the other side of the story. He is the celebrity that others are a fan of, so he has a whole different perspective on the event and also through him we gain an insight into the other band members. I especially loved his friendship with Rowan, it was obvious how close they were and we did see how they thought about being shipped by the fans. They always held together and I thought it was realistic that the overall dynamic in the band was not even, with Lister often feeling left out. I especially liked seeing Jimmy’s perspective on the fans. It wasn’t always pretty as he is not that happy about all the attention and often only sees the fans as demanding and not really knowing him at all, but to be fair, he often sees the negative side of fandom. He is also constantly burdened by being in public and his life being discussed all the time on social media, which cannot be easy. I also understood how he was often afraid of the large masses of fans, as he always feared something bad would happen, as it takes just one person to do that.
💗 There’s a nuanced discussion about fandom, highlighting both sides of the dialogue. I love reading books about fandom culture that really get it and understand the heart of fandom and don’t try to demonize it. I Was Born for This is one such book. It specifically talks about Band fandoms and while that’s not something I can really relate to (I‘m more in book/show fandoms and have never really had a solid music fandom), fandom itself is so well represented and relatable. Alice Oseman not only understands teens, she also gets what it’s like to be involved in a fandom. What I loved most was that she had lots of aspects represented: both the good (like how fandom brings people together, provides escape and helps people get through tough times), but also the bad (extreme shoppers and fans that sadly exist).
I loved how she explored the bad side of fandom without demonizing all fans. I think it’s very important to not gloss over the bad side of fandom, because it always exists and even though it often makes up a small percentage of the fandom, it will often get more publicity when bad things happen. I also liked how the author explored shipping real life people and showed both sides: the shippers and the one who get shipped. It was very well handled and you could understand both sides. As we see fan AND celebrity we also see the second perspective we often lack, how the band felt about their fans. It wasn’t always pretty, as Jimmy often pronounced how the fans don‘t know the real him and often scare him a bit, but that’s also realistic. Being so out in the public (and social media) and getting scared at such large masses who could become a threat must be daunting and it’s true that there are a lot of people who demand things. In the end Jimmy (and especially his band, who often only see the bad side of fandom) see that there is also a good side, with fans like Angel who care about them and always show support. Because we also see her perspective, we get the counter argument that shows how much the fans care and that their love brings them together.
IN CONCLUSION: I Was Born for This was the perfect exploration of fandom culture and one of the best portrayals I have ever seen. The author took great care to provide a nuances discussion about the good and bad sides of fandom and offered two very different perspectives: from star and fan together. We have a lot of excellent representation too, especially the anxiety rep and Angel’s character meant a lot to me.
Have you read I Was Born for This? What is your favorite book about fandom? 💕