Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

attachmentsPublisher: Dutton

Publication Year: 2011

Length: 323 pages (hardcover and paperback)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“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 . . . ?

Review (No Spoilers!!)

There’s a quote in this book, and I won’t post the whole thing, because the context of it would be a bit of a spoiler, but here’s the meat of it: “If this were a Jane Austen novel, it wouldn’t be so bad…computers make everything worse.”

And to me, that quote just about sums up how I felt while reading Attachments. This book is cute and fun, and is another adorable little love story by Rowell…if you can get past the creepiness of its premise.

Lincoln is an incredibly well-developed character: You can really understand his dysfunctional relationship with his mom, the intense feelings he had for his ex-girlfriend, Sam (and his subsequent difficulties in getting over her), and his shyness in new situations. He seems like a real person. And while Rowell tries to justify his snooping through Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, and does so to an extent (I think we all would keep reading through a series of funny and interesting messages if we could), I don’t think it’s ever really justified that he falls in love with Beth through these messages. It’s one thing to read them–I think that’s a very human thing to do, even if it’s not the most ethical. It’s another thing to creep on someone and suddenly decide that you love them. That’s just weird, the same way most romantic comedies, with their grandiose gestures of love, are kind of creepy when you start thinking about them. And then, when Beth turns out to be a bit of a stalker herself, you can’t help but wonder why all these people are like this when it comes to relationships.

Aside from all of that though, I do feel like this book deserves a lot of praise. It’s a relatively easy read and a great book to pick up for the summer if you want something not too heavy. The chapters about Beth and Jennifer are written in e-mail format, which I thought was a cool style change, and that also quickens the pace of the novel. Beyond that, there’s just a lot of great content, story-wise and character-wise. Beth and Jennifer have one of the most supportive and caring female friendships that I’ve seen represented in a book in a long time, and it’s a very real friendship. They fight over e-mail a couple times, as any real friends would, but they’re so supportive of each other and they have witty, playful banter throughout their e-mails. I almost wished I could be a part of their friend group as I was reading this. For as creepy as the main romantic relationship in this novel is, this main female friendship is amazingly written.

Additionally, there’s something complex in every one of these characters. They have good and bad inside them, and their pasts are interesting and complex, just as any real person’s should be. There was a decent amount of description of the characters’ college years, and as a current college student myself, I identified with a lot of what was written about them and their relationships at that time. I can see a little of myself in Beth when she talked about first dating her boyfriend, Chris. I know other couples that had/have relationships like Lincoln’s and Sam’s, and how theirs subsequently fell apart in similar ways (or are shaping up to fall apart in similar ways). Rowell once again does a great job of building complex backstory for her main characters (though she does it just as well with a lot of background characters too).

I should also mention, a lot of the dialogue in this book was well-written. As I mentioned, there was fun banter between Beth and Jennifer throughout their e-mails, but there were funny snippets of dialogue in other parts of the book too. Rowell really lets her creativity show in some of these scenes.

Aside from that, there were some minor things I enjoyed about this book as well, like the fact that it’s set at a newspaper (I’m a journalism major, what can I say?), and the fact that it was set in the 90’s. I was born towards the late end of the 90’s, so I’m not necessarily from that time period, but with the descriptions of the character’s clothes and some of the pop culture references, it felt a little like watching an episode of Friends sometimes.

And I guess overall, if you can get past the creepiness, the developing relationship between Lincoln and Beth is kind of sweet. You want to root for them to be together.

I’d give this book 4 stars, because I did enjoy reading it a lot. Like I said before, it was similar to watching a romantic comedy: if you can get past the fact that this would be totally weird in real life, it’s an awesome story and a really well-written, insightful, and funny one at that. I’d even say it’s better than a typical rom-com movie: the characters have more depth and realness to them than any I’ve ever seen in a film. So…definitely pick this book up if you haven’t already; just don’t think too hard about the weirdness of reading someone else’s e-mails for months.

Rating: 4 Stars




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