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ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell

I just read the sweetest surprise of a book.

I needed an epistolary novel for the 2020 EDIWTB Reading Challenge (yes, really coming down to the wire here…) and had read somewhere about Rainbow Rowell’s 2012 debut novel, Attachments, which is told in large part via email. Attachments takes place at a newspaper in late 1999/2000, when twentysomething Lincoln takes a night-shift job as an IT guy whose job includes monitoring email for inappropriate content. He starts reading flagged exchanges between two work best friends, Beth and Jennifer, who share confidences over email, not knowing that someone was reading their exchanges. Before long, Lincoln has fallen for Beth, having never seen her in person. Attachments is about whether Lincoln and Beth will find their way to each other despite this inauspicious start.

Why I picked it up: I needed an epistolary novel for the 2020 EDIWTB Reading Challenge and somehow Attachments found its way onto my radar. I am so glad it did.

I loved this book! Rowell’s characters are so real – smart, funny, flawed. They face adult issues – pregnancy, breakups of long relationships, floundering careers. The writing is pitch perfect – in 300+ pages, there were barely any words that didn’t feel authentic. I liked that it’s a romantic comedy told from the man’s point of view. I liked the slow buildup of Lincoln and Beth’s relationship. It didn’t bother me that Lincoln was reading her email – it was his job, and I’m sure I would have done the same in his position. Who could resist? In real life, good relationships can develop in random and unexpected – even inadvisable – ways.

Attachments is a charming, sweet story about likable people that never feels overly cute or saccharine. After a somewhat slow start, I had a really hard time putting it down. I also enjoyed the Y2K and early millennial references, though 20 (!) years later, the book doesn’t feel dated. It was a great note to end this endless year on – oh wait, I still have one more book to read. Never mind.

Attachments was book #65 of 2020 and satisfies the Epistolary Novel category of the 2020 EDIWTB Reading Challenge.