Book review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

AttachmentsTitle: Attachments

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Contemporary, romance, comedy

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: April 2011

Hardback: 323

Stand alone or series: Standalone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

This is the first book by Rainbow Rowell that I have read. I’ve heard A LOT about her and have wanted to try one of her books for a while. I was not disappointed.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis:

“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

What I thought:

I fell in love with this book the way I think you fall in love in real life (I don’t know for sure as I’ve never been in love), slowly, sweetly and uncontrollably until you realize you’re head over heels and gone forever. I don’t know if this actually makes sense.

Attachments begins in 1999 right before Y2K and during all of the madness leading up to that; you guys remember Y2K? It was so crazy. At The Courier, a small newspaper in Omaha, they are finally getting the internet and email, but the higher ups are worried about their employees not doing their jobs and wasting time online. So they hire Lincoln to monitor read their email. He hates his job and feels kind of like a Peeping Tom, but through it he finds Beth, a movie critic for the newspaper whose emails with her friend Jennifer are constantly being flagged by the internet software for their conversations about life, love, and stupid weddings. While reading their emails, Lincoln begins to fall in love with Beth, her humor, quirkiness, kindness. This romance was sweet, but decidedly creepy for me. I just imagined having someone I’ve never met reading my personal emails with my best friend (you know, if I was Beth) and having them fall in love with me. Okay, it’s sweet because he doesn’t actually know what Beth looks like and he still loves her, but wouldn’t that be a little weird?

The novel is written in a mix of chapters in Lincoln’s POV and chapters written entirely in the increasingly personal emails between Beth and Jennifer, a copyeditor at the newspaper. I seriously loved this modernized take on an epistolary novel (at least that’s what it made me think of). I also appreciated getting to know Beth and Jennifer through Lincoln’s eyes; it was easy to see what Lincoln liked about Beth: her conversations with Jennifer made me laugh out loud several times and they charmed me like they charmed Lincoln. But reading their emails while not actually getting any chapters from their perspective made you feel how Lincoln felt: a little creepy, like you’re peeking through a window at their private lives. I think this was a smart choice on Rowell’s part as you really relate to Lincoln this way.

I thought that Lincoln was funny and charismatic and charming and kind. He was a great character and I was rooting for him the whole time. He’s real and relatable. Sometimes though I just wanted to kick him in the butt: get up, go out, quit your job, do SOMETHING. I wanted him to change his life so that he could finally be happy. I was excited for him when he started doing things for himself like moving out of his mother’s house, making new friends, getting over his past. I thought his growth, while slow, was so real. He was still Lincoln at the end but he’d finally become his own person and was moving forward with his life. I loved that.

This book is open and honest, and I found myself engaged with the story right from the beginning. The dialogue is fantastic, especially between Beth and Jennifer; it’s delightful, funny, witty, and smart. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that I both liked and felt creeped out by the ending. However, the ending happened a little too quickly for me, I think. I was happy with the overall outcome because I was rooting for the romance, but I imagined myself in that situation and it was just weird. Weird in a good way? I don’t know. It happened very fast. Attachments is a really fun book but with serious moments and well-rounded, full characters.

The bottom line:

I was not disappointed with my first Rainbow Rowell book. I was engaged with the story and characters right from the beginning. Lincoln had me on his side the whole time and I was rooting for him when he began to develop. I will say I was a little creeped out some of the time, but I think that’s the way you’re supposed to feel. The ending was a little too quick for me, but this book is cute.

Rating: 8 – Freaking fantastic

Reading next: Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig