Sorry for being so terribly inactive. One of my bookish resolutions for 2018 is to try and write more reviews, let’s see if I can stick to it?! To start things off for the year, I figured I’d share some thoughts on one of the books I received for my birthday last month – Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Here’s a quick synopsis from the books’ jacket:
“It’s 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious detail, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring emails, spends his hours reading every exchange… the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realises just how head-over-heels he is, it’s too late to introduce himself.”
So far, I’ve had a bit of a love / hate relationship with Rowell’s books. Her work Fangirl is easily one of my favourite books of all time, and its’ heroine Cath is probably the fictional character I relate to the most. Eleanor & Park, however, left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Though I loved the relationship between the titular characters, Rowell’s descriptions of Park’s Asian heritage made me a bit uncomfortable. (Since this is a review of Attachments, I won’t go into this here, but I will recommend checking out this blog post by Hannah Gardner on racism in Eleanor & Park.) Ultimately, my opinion on Attachments falls somewhere in the middle of how I felt about Fangirl and Eleanor & Park. The book was cute, funny, and I couldn’t put it down. However, there were also a few moments in Attachments that really straddled the line of political correctness.
What I liked
- For me, the best part of this book was quite easily the friendship between Beth and Jennifer. I found their close bond and easy camaraderie to be relatable, and it was extremely refreshing to read a book that focused so heavily on female friendship. There was no rivalry between the pair, only supportiveness and understanding. Though the two do have a minor disagreement late in the book, after Beth makes an insensitive joke, they make up within hours.
- I also enjoyed the uniqueness of the romance between Lincoln and Beth. Lincoln begins to fall for Beth before he’s even seen her, let alone met her. Instead his attraction is based on her sharp wit and kind nature… that he observes by reading her email conversations with Jennifer. Is this creepy AF? Yes! But it’s also entertaining. It’s a unique situation, an online romance with a twist.
- Though Rowell often tackles serious issues, her books generally have a light-hearted tone and a sense of fun. Rowell is genuinely funny and a greater writer of witty banter.
What I disliked
- I really hate how easily Rowell uses the word ‘retarded’, it’s just unnecessary. Scenes like the following just made me uncomfortable and a bit confused.
“I thought that if I moved back home,” Lincoln said to Eve when she called the next day, “that I’d get a life.”
“Are you retarded?”
“I thought you’d stop saying ‘retarded’ and ‘gay’ so that your kids wouldn’t pick it up.”
“I can’t help it. That’s how retarded you sound right now.”
- I also found Lincoln quite hard to like. Primarily because he has this friend Justin who is quite possibly the biggest douchebag that I’ve ever read about. Justin uses words like “homeslice”, envies his younger brother’s full head of hair, disregards drink driving laws, and refers to women who dance provocatively as “nasty things”. Now, we already know Lincoln is a creeper – the guy spends 50% of the book reading through Beth’s emails, despite knowing it’s wrong, but the fact that he never calls out Justin on the latter’s bad behaviour (instead, he mostly follows Justin’s lead), makes me like him even less. Here’s an example from a scene where Justin and Lincoln go to a bar to meet girls.
“Look over there,” Justin said, pointing to a table by the door. “Those are our girls. Too much self esteem to dry hump their best friends, but not so much that they’ll turn down a drink from us.” Justin was already walking, so Lincoln followed him.”
- Chapter 69. Literally the entirety of this chapter consists of Beth and Jennifer criticising another woman for her choice to wear a low cut blouse. Jennifer notes that she hasn’t seen so much of another woman’s breasts since her high school locker room days, and goes on to insinuate that the woman is attempting to draw attention to her breasts in order to distract others from her poor performance as a journalist. This chapter really made me sad, as like I said earlier, one of the best parts about the book for me is the loving and supportive friendship between Beth and Jennifer. Yet their attitude towards other women seems to be pretty terrible?!
Ultimately, I enjoyed reading Attachments. It made me laugh, and for the most part, I spent my time reading it excitedly anticipating the day when Lincoln and Beth would finally meet. However, there were a few too many problematic WTF moments for me, and the Justin character had me rolling my eyes so hard that I thought I’d get a migraine.
My rating: 3/5 stars