Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Heather Reviews: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Title:  Attachments
Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Released:  2011
Publisher:  Dutton Adult
"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 . . . ?


When Fangirl came out and tumblr just about exploded over it, I jumped on the Rainbow Rowell train and wound up very impressed with the book.  Late last year, I got around to visiting the local 2nd & Charles and saw Attachments there for $5 (I really wanted to get Eleanor & Park, but I couldn’t find it) so I snapped it up and awaited a chance to read it.  I’m not comparing the books at all, but I found I enjoyed Fangirl more than Attachments.

Attachments tells the story of Lincoln transitioning through life, trying to find out what he wants and trying to get out of living with his mother at the age of 28, while also being pressured by his sister to get a move on in life.  At his job, he’s in charge of managing computer security, which includes reading emails that get flagged.  There are two repeat offenders, Beth and Jennifer, but at some point, instead of issuing warnings to them, he just continues to read the emails, while feeling like he may be falling for Beth.  Meanwhile, Beth and Jennifer’s emails tell the story of two twenty-something women and their partners.

Right off the bat, the thing that made me so excited to read this was the emails.  I really love stories told in unique ways, and emails, diaries, newspaper clippings, things like that make me so excited.  I love being able to work things out for myself with that, seeing how well an author can tell the story while not telling it at the same time (does that make sense?).  However, one of my biggest things with this book was how I couldn’t get a real read on Beth or Jennifer’s personalities through the emails.  In fact, until a certain point in the book, I was getting their characters mixed up every time I read the email chapters.

I’d say that’s what my biggest problem with the book was.  Since so much of the book takes places in Lincoln’s point of view and we (very) rarely see Beth or Jennifer, there just was no connection for me.  Lincoln talks about how much he likes Beth through her emails, giving various parts of her personality he’s come to know through them, but I couldn’t see it.  He mentioned that she “put on her kid gloves” when talking to Jennifer about certain topics … but I didn’t feel that.

Another thing was how scared everyone was of change, but how they’d also talk about how much they wanted it.  Beth wanted her boyfriend to get serious about their relationship, but when it was clear he wouldn’t, she stated she was scared to leave him because she might not get another chance at love.  It felt a little off to me because, in an earlier email, she mentioned that she had no problem getting boyfriends in the past, we hear from other characters that she is very beautiful, and, most ridiculous, she’s only in her late twenties.  I understand not wanting to leave a person, but believing that you won't get another shot at love when you're out of that relationship while still young is a bit much for me.

I also had issues with parts of Jennifer’s story.  Some things made me uncomfortable, like how much her husband wanted a baby and how Jennifer repeatedly confided in Beth that she wasn’t sure she was ready for one.  She avoids telling her husband this however.  She kept telling Beth how much she wanted her marriage to work, but I could not understand why she wouldn’t just sit down and talk to her husband about any of her problems, especially with how hard he was pressuring her into having a baby.

Lincoln’s storyline was okay, the only issue I had was his physical descriptions.  He works in IT, he plays D&D, he lives at home, but he’s described as … well, basically an older Levi from Fangirl; muscular, handsome, smart, funny, everything a girl could ever hope for.  On the one hand, I could see this happening, but I kinda wished one of the characters would be unconventionally attractive, since this was a story about falling love with someone’s personality.

While I do have those complaints, it’s definitely worth a read.  There are parts of the various stories that will hit home for people, especially Lincoln’s, and regardless of my complaints about not getting to know the women through their emails, there are some genuinely funny parts in them.  It’s an incredibly likeable book in the vein of Fangirl and if you enjoyed that, or are even looking to start reading a Rainbow Rowell book, I’d recommend this one.  As for me, I’m looking forward to wedging Eleanor & Park in sometime and Rowell’s upcoming 2014 novel, Landlines.

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