It’s 1999, and Lincoln O’Neill’s job is to read employee emails at The Courier, a newspaper who’s had the internet in the office for less than three months. If he finds any inappropriate content then the email is flagged and the offending employee is given a warning. Despite getting off at 1am, it’s a cushy job, with plenty of downtime, and a nice enough paycheck. But it leaves no room for a social life beyond his Dungeon and Dragons nights, let alone giving Lincoln the nerve to move out of his mother’s house or face the relationship hangup he’s had since his breakup with college girlfriend Sam. So when he starts enjoying the personal messages between friends Beth and Jennifer and shirking his responsibility to flag their emails, you can’t blame him for holding on to the only real source of joy in his life. But then to exacerbate Lincoln’s moral dilemma, he does what seems the most unheard of thing of all: he begins to fall for Beth. After breaching her privacy in a way that makes him look like a Peeping Tom, ever interacting with Beth is an impossibility. But how will he revive his dead end life if he doesn’t?
Ever since I read a digital ARC of Rainbow Rowell’s YA novel Eleanor and Park last year, I knew I would be picking up her debut adult novel, Attachments. The email romance premise was attractive, and the minimal, graphic cover divine. I almost love it as much as the US edition of Eleanor & Park. Many thanks to Chachic, who completely surprised me by gifting it to me for Christmas. I was the lucky recipient of the book then just as much as I am of the story now.
Like Eleanor & Park, I fell into Attachments easily. It’s told in short, alternating chapters between Jennifer and Beth’s emails exchanges and Lincoln’s perspective. Although this format made it very accessible, it also made it harder for me to connect to the characters initially. It wasn’t until Lincoln’s flashbacks with Sam that I lost my indifference towards him. It was harder to become well-acquainted with Jennifer and Beth, but once I did, I was attached to the threesome. It also doesn’t hurt that Lincoln is completely my type: slightly nerdy, tall, and quiet. And he plays Dungeons and Dragons? How cool is that! The more I got to know both Jennifer and Beth, the more I liked them. They are both in different phases of life but that doesn’t diminish their connection or ability to help one another. Jennifer is happily married and fluctuates between wanting to start a family or not, while Beth is in a dead end, long-term relationship with a musician named Chris. I enjoyed both the bare-all irreverence and the more serious sides of their relationship. I couldn’t predict where Lincoln’s fascination with Beth would lead, but I was satisfied with how its development was gradual and realistic. While the conclusion of their story borders on the sappy side, the reward for Beth and Lincoln is well-earned. As in Eleanor & Park, Rowell successful recaptures the spirit of the time with her portrayal of Y2K paranoia and 90s pop culture, which adds to the book’s charm. It’s been weeks since I finished Attachments but the well-rounded characters and nuanced relationships have lingered. I’m elated that Rainbow Rowell has a second YA novel titled Fangirl coming out this spring. For now I’m happy to recommend her adult novel to readers of weightier chick lit, rom coms in book form, and anyone looking for a hard-earned, sweet romance.
Chrisbookarama review – “Overall, it’s a sweet, romantic story with the twist of a male protagonist.”
Giraffe Days review – “…this is actually a laugh-out-loud, clever, wonderfully written, sweet romantic comedy, better than the films too.”
The Happily Ever After review – “Attachments is a well written, entertaining read.”
The Readventurer review – “I think that for most romance-lovers, this sweet book will be a home run.”