Thursday, February 28, 2013

Attachments: A Novel, by Rainbow Rowell

Summary (from

"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 really enjoyed this book. It's the quintessential rom-com novel, but with a clever twist: instead of "boy meets girl," it's "boy doesn't meet girl." He's falling in love with her from the inside out. How charming is that?

Attachments is a well-executed novel. Chapters alternate between Beth and Jennifer's email exchanges at work and Lincoln's story, told in a traditional prose format. Usually, when a book alternates points of view, I prefer one or the other - but Rainbow Rowell (how amazing is that name, by the way!?) managed to write it so that I loved both versions equally!

I love epistolary novels, but sometimes I get confused by screen names or lose track of the characters. That wasn't a problem in Attachments. This is one of the best-executed epistolary novels I've read in a while (I still want to read Dracula, which I hear is an excellent early epistolary novel ((egad the elliteration!)), but I'll get there eventually).

We spend a lot of time following Lincoln's journey. He starts off as sort of a shlumpy character, but we get to watch him grow and develop. He has a lot of backstory that we don't get right off the bat, and it was a pleasure every time I got a new nugget of backstory. This isn't an epic thriller - it's not like he has a secret agent past (though that would be kind of cool too!) - so learning his backstory is satisfying without being OMG!-inducing. And while I like my OMG-inducing stories, sometimes it's nice to read a charming, easy book!

 I also loved reading the email exchanges between Jennifer and Beth. They're funny and clever, but also real. I can imagine these woman at work, sending email gossip. They have flaws, but they also acknowledge them. One great thing about this book: these characters are flawed but intelligent. Whenever I figured something out about a character, *poof!* - they figured it out themselves. I wasn't getting angry at them for being dumb! And in a rom-com!  That's so rare!

(I'm the first to admit that I'm usually not a huge fan of romantic comedies. The situations are painfully unrealistic, most of the women are a little too dumb, and I just end up rolling my eyes the whole time. So instead, I watch cartoon movies. They're just the right level of dumb for me! ;))

The one thing that really threw me off is that even though it was published in 2011, this book is set right around Y2K. It's a throwback to the 90's, which was charming in its own right - aren't so many solid romantic comedies set in the 90's? (Rhetorical question... kind of. We've already established that I'm not a rom-com lady.) Not that it got in the way of my enjoyment of the book. It just got me confused. But considering that I ended up reading it within the span of 24 hours (give or take an hour or two), clearly I got over that confusion real quick!

The Final Breakdown:
  • Interesting Characters?: Every character, even the minor ones, is smart and clever. They're fun to follow around and to read about. I didn't dislike a single character in the book, even the characters that could be consider villains.
  • Doing Interesting Things?: They're not doing things that are out-of-the-ordinary, but their sense of humor keeps even the mundane things interesting.
  • Told in an Intelligent Way?: Absolutely. The way it alternates between prose and emails keep the book moving at a good pace, and it's fun to mix things up!
And now, I'm trying something new. Most reviewers grade books on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. But I'm a One Happy Kat. This is Happy Kat Reads. And thus, instead of using stars, I shall use smiley faces! And this one gets 4/5 smiley faces.

(If I could find a good image of a happy cat, I'd totally use it. But I didn't, and there's no way I'm using that grumpy cat meme that's going around the internet. I'm One Happy Kat, not One Grumpy Kat. That's nowhere near as fun!)

Attachments on
Attachments on GoodReads