With these astute perceptions, Hannah Ewens reminds us that fans are not passive and predictable recipients of an artist’s greatness. Our idols give us their music and their personas; we bring to these our own desires and projections, and we take what we need. Sometimes the stars themselves are almost beside the point – sometimes they are the ones who could almost be interchangeable.
The world is not short of academic investigations into fan culture, but in this book Ewens offers us something different: Fangirls is a warm and vivid portrait of the elation and devastation felt by female music fans and a place in which the passions and anxieties of young girls are really listened to and understood.
The stories she uncovers are exhilarating: there’s the girl whose lung collapsed after she screamed too hard at a One Direction concert in 2013; the two businesswomen whose dull work trip turned into the ride of a lifetime after they bonded over a Courtney Love tattoo; the Justin Bieber fans who started queuing 50 days before his concert at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. It’s easy to become enraptured in the thrill of these fans’ unending desire to get as close as possible to their idols.