Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors. I first fell in love with her books when I read Fangirl, and I was equally captivated by Landline. I had purchased Attachments during an Audible sale, and I recently got around to listening to it.
Attachments is the turn of the century (1999-2000) story of a young man named Lincoln. He’s shy, and a little socially awkward, and he works in IT for a newspaper. His responsibilities include monitoring the employees’ email for anything inappropriate. The correspondence between Beth and Jennifer, two of his coworkers regularly lands in his filters. Lincoln knows that he shouldn’t continue to read the emails, and he should either report them for personal correspondence during work hours or ignore them because they aren’t actually inappropriate. But he doesn’t do either of those things- he continues to read the emails, and as he does, he realizes that he genuinely cares about what the ladies are talking about, and he begins to fall in love with Beth.
Part of the novel is devoted to the correspondence between Beth and Jennifer. Beth has been in a relationship for several years, but her boyfriend doesn’t show any signs of wanting to settle down and get married. Jennifer is married and her husband desperately wants children, but she isn’t sure if that’s what she wants.
In between the emails, the reader is treated to a narrative about Lincoln. He’s lonely and shy, and he begins to look forward to reading the emails that land in his filter. He appreciates the rapport between the two friends, and over the course of the novel, he begins to make changes to his own life. He tries to be more social, both at work and in his free time. He wants to introduce himself to Beth, but he doesn’t know how; it’s such an awkward situation because he knows all about her and she doesn’t know that he has been reading her email.
As I typed up my description, I realized that very little had to be changed to turn this romantic comedy into a suspenseful thriller about a stalker. Lincoln definitely does things that could be construed as creepy. What it comes down to, in my opinion, is motivation. Lincoln is sweet and endearing, and he continues to read the emails because he genuinely cares about Beth and Jennifer’s problems. He’s sweet and socially awkward; he wants to introduce himself to Beth, but he doesn’t know how to do it because they don’t always work during the same shift.
Attachments begins in the months leading up to the year 2000. Y2K panic is treated with fond nostalgia, and everyone scrambles to make sure that the computers are compliant and that they won’t explode when the new century begins. This is the perfect setting for Attachments; if the story were set in the present day, Beth and Jennifer would be a lot more tech savvy and would be emailing each other on their personal accounts or texting, rather than using their company accounts for corresponding.
I would recommend Attachments. This is a funny and endearing story about the awkwardness of adulthood and reaching beyond the comfort zone. It’s about making new connections and evaluating old ones. I love all of the Rainbow Rowell novels that I have read- Eleanor & Park is the last published novel that I have left to read, and it’s on my list. I’m also eagerly awaiting Carry On, which will be released in October.