I read Fangirl recently, a young adult novel that everyone on the internet is talking about. I then put Eleanor and Park at the top of my mental wishlist, but in the meantime, I thought I’d read Attachments, Rainbow Rowell’s first novel – adult contemporary rather than young adult.
Attachments is set in the late 90s – much to my delight, having grown up then – and is told through a quirky, original perspective. 28-year-old Lincoln O’ Neill is in charge of reading people’s emails. Honest. It’s all part of Internet Security at his job working for The Courier, a local newspaper, and it’s up to him to write a report every time somebody triggers the filter. So why is he not warning Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder? Because their emails are smart and funny and entertaining and wait, is Lincoln falling for Beth? If love at first sight is silly, how about love at first email?
Attachments is cute. It’s why I wanted to pick it up and it’s why I kept on reading, but it also offers so much more than that. Rainbow Rowell is an impressive writer who immerses herself in every character she creates and in every experience she makes them go through. In Fangirl, Cath is a realistic character, struggling with social anxiety in college, seeking refuge her fanfiction. And in Attachments, I felt like I’d been transported back to the 90s. I often forgot that it was only written a few years ago. And then there’s the authentic, likeable characters! Lincoln is who every teenager reading Fangirl would want to be reading about in ten years. Cute, geeky, lovely, but his story isn’t easy and sadness frequents Attachments as much as the cute romance. Lincoln happens to hate his job, he still lives at home with his mother, his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends all have families… He wants out, but leaving Beth, and her emails, is difficult to contemplate.
Beth and Jen are equally as impressive characters – brilliant, smart and funny women. I enjoyed reading their private conversations (and luckily I don’t have to feel as bad about it as Lincoln does!) and they’re the sort of girls I’d be friends with, newspaper publishing not being that dissimilar to book publishing. Attachments also made me realise why I enjoy young adult contemporary so much, because even though I’m nearer to 28 than 18 (argh!), at least I’ve been 18 and experienced a lot of the same trials and tribulations, and angsty emotions, as the characters I’m reading about, whereas marriage and pregnancy are completely alien to me! I’m stuck in this weird age where I’m young enough to jump around being ‘ironically enthusiastic’ but old enough to have a serious rant about careers and mortgages. It’s a strange place to be but lucky we have someone like Rainbow Rowell who understands what it’s like to be young, whether you’re a teenager at school or an adult at work. Now, where can I get my copy of Eleanor and Park?!
Published: 1st January 2011 (US) 2nd February 2012 (UK)
Publisher: Plume (US) Orion (UK)