Attachments – Rainbow Rowell

Having listed Fangirl as one of my favourite books of 2014, and enjoying Eleanor and Park, I decided to read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I got it out of the library because I am s-k-i-n-t this month (don’t authors get something like 17p for each library issue? Better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish) and read it within 24 hours.

 

Plot & characters

So the basic premise is that Lincoln has been hired by a newspaper to monitor the use of internet by his colleagues. This involves reading emails and letting people know that they can’t use company emails for personal chat. It starts very innocently with him reading an exchange between two women called Beth and Jennifer, and deciding not to send them a warning. But then, he keeps on reading and discovers that he might have developed feelings for a woman he has never met, but knows all about.

The storyline was certainly compelling. I kept reading because I wanted to find out what happened, and I really enjoyed the twist on a dual narrative. In 1999 I was 10, so it was interesting to read about this time from an adult perspective.

As far as the characters go, I didn’t feel connected at all to Beth or Jennifer. I couldn’t really tell them apart except when they talked about their significant others, and so for me Lincoln was the be-all and end-all of the story. I loved reading about the journey he went through and the battle to get away from the comfort of his family home, combined with the desire to stay safe and secure forever. Lincoln is a very anxious person. His social anxiety is very relatable and really human. It’s not forced at all. However, I just can’t get over the creeper aspect. Sure, he seems like a nice enough guy, and he obviously feels tremendous guilt over the whole situation, but that kind of thing just wasn’t done in the early days of the internet. It wasn’t as acceptable as ‘Facebook stalking’ (which of course I do, but I feel creepy about it), and is the equivalent now of logging into someone’s account and reading their private messages. He knows things about these women that they are not aware he knows; really personal things that I’m sure they didn’t want anyone else to know about.

Getting over that for a moment, I also find it a little difficult to believe that both Lincoln and the eventual love interest just happen to be classically good looking. I did give the book a ‘really?’ look when I got to those parts. For me, it’s important to note that the cast is seemingly made up of straight white characters. This is not a diverse book.

The plot certainly grabbed me though, and Rowell has an astonishing gift for reeling in the reader. She is incredibly talented at making the reader invest in the characters, and I have never read a book of hers in a time period over about 20 hours, because I am just that desperate to find out what happens.

 

Writing

Rowell is obviously a very talented and experienced writer. She knows her craft very well, and I did enjoy the writing style. It’s so difficult to get banter right and she absolutely nailed it.

Jennifer to Beth: Ech. I don’t like Tom Cruise.
Beth to Jennifer: Me neither. But I usually like Tom Cruise movies.
Jennifer to Beth: Me too… Huh, maybe I do like Tom Cruise. But I hate feeling pressured to find him attractive. I don’t.
Beth to Jennifer: Nobody does. It’s a lie perpetuated by the American media. Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts.
Jennifer to Beth: Men don’t like Julia Roberts?
Beth to Jennifer: Nope. Her teeth scare them.
Jennifer to Beth: Good to know.

There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments and a lot of quotable lines, and there were never any moments where I became aware I was reading a book. For me, that’s the marker: if I can totally forget I’m reading a book and just lose myself in the story.

 

If you liked… you’ll like this

Adult fiction: Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes; Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher
YA: Geek Girl by Holly Smale; Adorkable by Sarra Manning

 

Trigger warnings

Potential glamourisation of stalking and voyeurism (although it is somewhat resolved).

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