Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

This post contains spoilers.

I was looking for an easy airplane read when I came across this book by the author of the much talked about young adult novel Eleanor and Park. I would usually (and perhaps unfairly) be sceptical of anything written by someone named Rainbow, but after flicking through the first few chapters I decided the writing was engaging enough to keep my mind occupied at 30,000 feet. In the end I spent more of my flight time gripping the armrests and reading this very helpful article on weird airplane noises, but once I was safely on the ground I finished Attachments within a few days. It’s an easy but worthwhile read – a little predictable, but also thoughtful and well written.

Attachments is a romantic comedy, aimed more at adults than young adults (particularly adults in their late twenties/early thirties). Lincoln is twenty-eight, still wounded from the loss of his first love, and living at home with his Mum. He is the IT guy at a local newspaper, and his primary responsibility is monitoring emails. He becomes caught up in an exchange between Beth and Jennifer (much of the novel is written in email format), and eventually falls in love with Beth.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the insight into the friendship between the two women. Their discussions about family, romance, and babies were smart and thoughtful. As Heat magazine notes Attachments is – at least when it comes to the conversations between these two women – “easy to relate to.”

There were some surprising moments in the plot, but in the end things turned out pretty much the way I expected them to. I didn’t feel, as The IMG_20150723_121131Argus claims, that Rainbow Rowell kept me “guessing” with Attachments; nor did I agree with the following Publisher’s Weekly quote: “the solution – imperfect but believable – maintains the novel’s delicate balance of light and dark.” There was a touch of darkness to Attachments – or, more accurately, a touch of reality – but in the end the light wins out. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the book up until the ending – not so much because it was predictable (I didn’t pick up this novel looking for surprises) but because it was so sappy and Meg-Ryan-romantic. It felt out of keeping with the rest of the book, which was much more refreshingly realistic about love and relationships, about the commitment and work that is involved. I kind of wanted Beth and Lincoln not to end up together, for each of them to find someone else compatible and work at building successful relationships, rather than just falling into each other’s arms and living happily ever after. In the end Beth really does get the easy way out. She gets the ‘meet-cute.’ I also thought the fact that Lincoln got over his ex-girlfriend only by obsessing about and idealising Beth was a little too easy.

But anyway. I’m over-analysing. This was a fun book, with lots of funny, clever, and relevant moments that I enjoyed. Recommended airplane – or post-airplane – reading!

Attachments, published in 2011, is Rainbow Rowell’s first novel. She lives in Nebraska.

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