What a waste of good banter!
Rowell’s Attachments delivers excellent characters in a cliché romcom. It might be a great waste of good characters and witty banter, but it’s definitely worth the read.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, a book review by Kendyl Bryant
Something that might be important to know about me is that I tend towards Sense rather than Sensibility. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good romance and I can ‘ship’ with the best of them, but I wouldn’t call myself a romantic. Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments is for the romantics.
The novel follows Lincoln who has the mildly disconcerting job of monitoring the company email to make sure no one is using it for non-work-related purposes. When Beth and Jennifer start sending long, decidedly personal emails back and forth, it’s Lincoln’s job to read through them and send them a warning. But the correspondences are so quick-witted and charming that he just can’t bring himself to do it. Instead, he keeps reading, and inevitably, cupid strikes.
At least, that’s the romantic basis for the story and the part that I found a little unsettling. In the real world, Lincoln’s actions are creepy, bordering on stalker. It’s something that could only work in the land of fiction and too perfectly sets up the romcom entanglement making it seem impossible that our two lovebirds would ever really get together. To be honest, I spent a good portion of the novel hoping that Lincoln and Beth wouldn’t get together, because the story outside of the romantic cliché is fantastic.
And I mean fantastic. The characters are so real and engaging, like people I’d want as friends. The types I’d willinglyforgive for their mistakes. Beth and Jennifer have such a bounce to their language that even their cynicism reads like sunshine. It makes Lincoln’s actions almost understandable because I couldn’t stop reading their emails either. They are funny and honest in a way that only the very closest of friends would understand and accept. And when Beth and Jennifer put their worst on the table, they have room to grow in very realistic and heart-breaking ways.
If possible, Lincoln’s character arc is even more multi-faceted than the ladies’. As the reader follows him throughout the novel, we’re present for every step of his character growth, cheering him along. When the book begins he’s very isolated, has few friends and seems to take whatever path he’s pushed towards. He doesn’t realize that he’s been holding his breath for years. As the reader makes the journey of finding his autonomy it’s like taking that much-needed inhale with him.
This book excels at giving us characters to love and letting them grow before our eyes in a realistic and relatable way. That is perhaps why I found the return to a romantic ending so jarring, but it was still an incredibly enjoyable read that I recommend to romantics and non-romantics alike. It’s quick and funny and sad in all the right places and real in the places that count.