Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for Attachments
Lincoln is twenty-eight years old and holds a couple of master’s degrees. He didn’t know what else to do with his life, so he continued his education. Now, living back at home with his mother, he has taken a job at The Courier, the local newspaper in the IT department. It is 1999 and the newspaper is slowly creeping — technologically speaking — toward the new millennium. Lincoln works the night shift, attending to computer security. Which means that about all he does is read employees’ emails and issue warnings to employees who violate the company computer/email usage policy.
When the computer system flags emails exchanged by Jennifer, a copy editor, and Beth, the newspaper’s movie reviewer, Lincoln can’t help himself. He is instantly drawn into their conversations . . . and their lives. He can’t bring himself to send them a warning about their sending personal emails through the newspaper’s server. Before long, Lincoln is eagerly looking forward to finding that their correspondence has been flagged so that he can read it.
And then Beth, who is living with the lead guitarist for a local rock group, begins writing to Jennifer about the Cute Guy she saw in the newsroom. Justin is shocked to realize that she is referring to him and intrigued by her, but he is awkward, shy, and unsure of himself. But now he has worked himself into a conundrum from which he does not believe he can extricate himself. The more of the women’s emails he reads, the more enchanted he becomes with Beth, but he realizes that he is violating their privacy and is certain that he will never be able actually meet or interact with Beth.
The word “charming” is overused in the context of describing women’s fiction. But that is precisely the word that accurately describes Attachments, Rainbow Rowell’s debut novel.
Lincoln is a physically large guy who was raised by his single mother. He has never met his father. His only sibling, Eve, is several years older, married with children, and a personal banker. She regularly encourages Lincoln to be independent and make a life for himself apart from their controlling and suffocating mother, urging him to read “What Color is Your Parachute?” during his long nights at work when he has nothing to do. But it’s just too much for Lincoln who has never really gotten over being dumped by his high school girlfriend, Sam, after they went away to college together in California. Lincoln has very little self-esteem, and turns to the spiral notebook in which Sam listed the many “Things Lincoln is Good At” to cheer himself up from time to time. Although he is over-qualified for his job and hating working the night shift, he is unable to motivate himself to look for a more suitable position. Eventually, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Doris, an older widow with whom he shares the massive lunches his mother packs for him each day.
Although Lincoln is hapless and lost, he is also endearing. He is, after all, a twenty-eight-year-old guy who has only had one girlfriend. He is not a partier, although he tries to go out to clubs with his long-time friend Justin. He prefers spending his Saturday nights playing Dungeons and Dragons. But Lincoln has a good heart and strives to do the right thing. So why does he continue reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails?
At the outset, Jennifer is torn about whether to have a child, although her husband, Mitch, is anxious to start a family. Meanwhile, Beth has spent several years living with the uber-cool Chris, but her doubts about the long-term viability of their relationship is revealed through her infatuation with Lincoln, whom she dubs “McG” (My Cute Guy). She has her own issues with self-esteem, as evidenced by her consternation about the bridesmaid dress she is going to be required to wear in her younger sister’s upcoming wedding.
Each of Rowell’s characters is fully fleshed out, believable, and empathetic. The late-twenties angst about whether marriage, children, and career success lie in the future is a them to which readers can readily relate, but Rowell has placed her characters in a specific time period when the world anticipated Y2K and what it would bring. So too Lincoln, Beth, Jennifer, and the remainder of the supporting cast are poised on the cusp of the new century and pondering what changes will take place in their lives.
When New Year’s Eve arrives, it is a giant bore, as many of us distinctly recall. As the New Year dawned around the world, and computer systems were proven secure, we all wondered what the fuss had been all about. And as that milestone comes and goes, the action in Rowell’s story picks up, with Lincoln developing a new sense of self through Beth’s confessions to Jennifer about her attraction to him. He becomes more independent, but still cannot figure out how he is ever going to broach the divide that he has created by continuing to electronically eavesdrop on their private conversations in which they share intimate details about each other’s lives.
Attachments is ultimately a story about a young man’s coming of age, a refreshing change of pace from the normal stories told in women’s fiction. It is a quick read, full of humor and written with obvious compassion for the young adult protagonists. Rowell holds a journalism degree and is a pop-culture/lifestyles columnist with The World-Herald in Omaha, Nebraska. So her depictions of both the newsroom environment and midwestern sensibilities are authentic and realistic.
Attachments is a quick and thoroughly enjoyable read that will leave you feeling good about love, destiny, and the possibilities that materialize when one becomes empowered to move forward toward concrete goals. But it is still advisable that you comply with your company’s email and computer usage policies, because it is highly unlikely that there is a real Lincoln reading your messages who will refrain from sending you that warning.
I look forward to reading more of Rowell’s work.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Attachments free of charge from the author in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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One lucky reader, selected at random, will receive a copy of Attachments, graciously provided by the author.
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