Author: Rainbow Rowell
Page Count: 333
Original Publication Date: 2011
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
The year is 1999, and Lincoln has just started a new job working nights as an Internet Security Officer at The Courier. He didn’t realize “Internet Security Office” translated to “reading people’s emails.” When an email gets flagged—emails that contain profanity, emails that don’t pertain to work, etc.—Lincoln is supposed to send the accuser a warning. Everyone knows not to send these types of emails, yet best friends Beth and Jennifer can’t help it. Their emails get flagged daily. But Lincoln can’t seem to report Beth and Jennifer. Instead of sending them warnings, Lincoln continues reading their correspondence with interest. By the time he realizes he’s falling for Beth, there’s no going back, and no possible way of initiating this relationship… “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you…”
Attachments is Rainbow Rowell’s first novel, so it’s funny I’m reading it almost last after all her other works. It’s set in 1999 and told in third-person POV from Lincoln’s perspective. His POV chapters are broken up with the emails he reads between Jennifer and Beth. We learn a lot about Lincoln, since the story is about him, but everything we learn about Beth and Jennifer comes strictly from their emails—what they’re saying to each other. For some reason I went into this novel thinking it’d be more from the ladies’ perspectives, so I was thrown off having Lincoln as the main character. Plot-wise, I won’t say anything more than I already have, because that would pretty much ruin the story. So let’s talk about the main character.
Lincoln. Ah, Lincoln. There are a lot of harsh reviews about this novel due to Lincoln being, essentially, a creep. I won’t deny that he’s kind of a creep, reading Beth’s emails and visiting Beth’s desk when she’s not at work and falling in love with a person he’s never even met, who also has a boyfriend already. But also, his job really is to read their emails, so, on one hand, I do get it. I guess where it becomes really creepy is knowing he wants to know this person and be with this person, rather than just reading her funny emails and getting on with this own life. OR, introduce himself and then stop reading her emails. So yes, I do see how that’s creepy. But also, he really is a nice guy. He’s a nice guy throughout the entire story. And of course I only know that because of third-person narration, but still. And also Beth isn’t entirely innocent, either, in regards to being creepy, so, in a way, like…maybe they deserve each other? I don’t know.
Let’s talk about the writing. I love Rowell’s ability to create interesting stories about ordinary people. I love the way she writes dialogue, because it’s so entertaining and witty and real and honest. Rowell just has this great ability to capture my attention with her stories and not let me go until the end. Attachments, though not my favorite of her novels, still did this for me. I do know Rowell has been getting a lot of criticism lately for her writing, which makes me sad because I do love her books so much. But I also want to make sure we’re listening when people say that her writing hurt them, or misrepresented them, etc. I will say, there are a few instances in this novel that may upset people. A character uses the word “retarded” in a derogatory sense, as many people did back in the nineties and even into the 2000s and today. Another character makes a joke about makeup and references victims of domestic abuse. And also, Lincoln’s mom questions his sexuality, and Lincoln adamantly asserts his straightness but never really defends homosexuality. So I do get why this novel may feel problematic for some, and may hurt people. However, I also feel like setting plays an important role (the nineties), so perhaps Rowell was just being…realistic? Even if that’s not the case, I do firmly set a boundary between author and character. Rainbow Rowell writing about a homophobic character does not make her homophobic. Writing a character that uses the word “retarded” does not mean Rowell endorses that kind of behavior. I think that line can get blurred, and it’s dangerous, but for me, I very much separate Rowell from her characters. And I think you should. Perhaps she’s just being honest about human beings. Unfortunately, some people do use these terms. Some mothers are homophobic. Some men aren’t allies. And some women will joke about inappropriate things. So, I guess where Attachments is concerned, I think the novel is fine, personally, but I do understand if some people take offense to Rowell’s writing or dislike her entirely.
Writing aside, I’m having a really hard time reviewing this book. I did enjoy it, though not as much as I enjoyed many of Rowell’s other novels, but again, we have to keep in mind this is her first. I guess it’s hard to review without spoiling anything, and I like to keep most of my reviews spoiler-free. It’s a cute contemporary romance you’ll enjoy, unless you really hate the idea of a guy reading someone’s emails and being a little stalker-y. Like, if you did not like Twilight because you found Edward to be too creepy and too much and too possessive, you probably won’t like Attachments. But I did. I really enjoyed it, but it’s one of those light, fluffy filler books that I read that I don’t have much to say about. I liked it, and it was a fun read. So if you’re in the mood for that, you should give this a go, whether you’re a current Rowell fan or new to her books!
–“There are moments when you can’t believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening.”
–“I didn’t know love could leave the lights on all the time.”
–“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!”