Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Yet another book for the last difficult states from my 50 States Challenge that turned out to be excellent, that I wouldn't have read otherwise!

Lincoln lives in Nebraska with his Mom, working the night shift for IT at the local newspaper. Part of his job, aside from supervising the Y2K fix work, is reviewing emails flagged by the system for inappropriate language. Beth, the movie reviewer, and Jennifer, a copywriter, get flagged frequently for this discussions of whether to have children (Jennifer), horrid weddings (Beth's sister), and who the new cute guy is that they're seeing around the office. It turns out the new cite guy is Lincoln himself. And despite himself, he finds himself really falling for Beth. Even though he's never met her, and she has a boyfriend.

This all sounds complicated but it's quite the opposite. It's almost an updated epistolary novel from the days of yore when it wasn't a bizarre notion to fall for someone sight unseen. However, the fact that Beth doesn't realize that her emails are being read (at least not consciously—she does know about the flagging system) does cause an ethical issue for the reader, and for Lincoln. Midway through the book you realize you really want them to end up together, but you're not sure how it might happen, as her boyfriend isn't a bad guy, and the ethical issue would complicate things regardless.

What I really liked was how, even though at the beginning Lincoln doesn't like his job at all (he feels like he's getting paid for doing nothing), things start to go well for him. He discovers that realizing someone finds him attractive and might have a crush on him helps his self-confidence, and that helps him in many other areas. As his older sister says, it's best not to focus on what you don't like, but focus instead on what is working, and try to just add one small piece of good to that side of the balance sheet, one at a time. (He accuses her of treating him like an investment—she works at a bank—and I don't disagree with that but I also don't think that's necessarily a negative.)

This book is a traditional rom-com with some humor and yet it's also somewhat quiet, which I appreciated (no ridiculous set-pieces of tripping and being humiliated). I liked its Midwestern vibe and the caring friendship we saw between Beth and Jennifer. It's not so easy to develop fully three-dimensional characters through emails but Ms. Rowell does it masterfully. Loved it.

I checked this book out of the library.

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