Attachments | Book Review

Title: Attachments

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Series: n/a

Publisher: Dutton Adult

Publishing Date: 14th April 2011

“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 . . . ?

I’m sure many of you have read Carry On or Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, which can probably be named her most well-known books. However, how many have read some of her earlier novels which don’t garner as much attention, some of you I’m sure, but I’m definite that it’s a smaller percentage.

Attachments follows the story of a man called Lincoln in his late twenties who reads people’s emails at a Newspaper publisher (I know it sounds wrong but I couldn’t find out what it was called) for a living. Every night he sifts through flagged up emails as an incentive for the day workers: writers and editors, to keep productive instead of having non-work related conversations.

I’m sure most (or almost none) of us see that as a desirable job occupation, and for Lincoln, it isn’t either. At the beginning of the book he has a less than mundane existence and even if it doesn’t explicitly scream it out, a seemingly self-pitying one at that. He feels lonely and feels guilty doing his job, which to him, parallels eavesdropping strangers. However, as the book develops he begin to socialise more and put himself out there, as you’d be pleased to know, and comes out of the shell that was left when his ex-girlfriend left him all those years ago and he hadn’t fully recovered from.

Lincoln isn’t the only character that goes through self-loathing though, and it does crop up in several occurrences in the book, and at one point at a major point for one of the characters. Rowell’s portrayl of emotions seem more realistic than most. There’s moments where characters can’t contain themselves, others where they’d rather keep it all all inside and ones where they’re willing to prioritise their friend’s above their own.

I think the dynamic of Beth and Jennifer’s friendship portrays this the most, which may seem unlikely due to the only interaction between the two seen by the reader is done by email correspondence. I must admit when I initially picked it up it was the feature of the novel that I was most hesitant about, as although I hadn’t read anything similar before, I was nervous that it’d end up like the stories written in poem form or song, which as you can probably tell, aren’t my favourite by a long shot. Once I’d read a decent amount it, however, their email dialogues were the what I looked forward to the most in the book. At times they’d discuss serious personal matters, work or whatever had popped into their head, and on occasion, how much cleavage one of their colleagues had been showing in her chosen outfit of the day. In fact, I think chapter one of the novel perfectly sets the tone of their friendship, with Jennifer frantically emailing Beth to tell her that she thinks she’s pregnant and she’s going to have an aneurysm in the delivery room. Whilst being disjointed every now and then, I found it fun not knowing if the next email followed on from the last and there was always a sense of excitement when certain relationships or themes cropped up again in their conversation, letting you know about their alternative story-line.

What struck a chord with me the most, in the entirety of the novel, was how Rowell presented teen relationships. As a teen myself, the way she paints the naivety of it all I found to be rather truthful and honest: the way in which you think your first relationship is going to be your last, no matter what anyone else may say and how much that first heartbreak can shatter, I definitely connected with it all. Rowell describes heartbreak at several points in the novel and they’re some of the most beautiful scenes in the whole book in terms of capturing emotions and setting the scene. What I liked as well was that she didn’t focus on just the classic movie reasons why some people break up and that the reason for the break up each time gave a deeper insight into the person’s character as a whole, rather than it being a simple, 2D event.

Attachments, although it may not trump Carry On, is one of the cutest books I’ve read in a while and has a good, original idea for a story-line. Despite presenting itself to be a typical romance book, it has layers of character development, emotion, comedy and both family and romantic relationships, which give itself to be a well-rounded novel.

Rating : 4/5

Rating system: 1 = bad, 2 = okay/decent, 3 = good, 4 = very good, 5 = wow

Have you read Attachments? Or any other books by Rainbow Rowell? If so, tell me what you thought of them in the comments below!

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