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A review of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Lincoln O'Neill is suffering from a quarter life crisis. He's over-educated, living at home, and has been gun-shy when it comes to dating after a disastrous break-up. Oh, and he's also working a terrible, terrible job as the 'internet security officer' for an Omaha, Nebraska newspaper. Not only is it night shift, which sucks, but the entire job description is to read people's e-mail behind their back. It makes him feel like a rat, and Lincoln hates it.

Until Beth and Jennifer's e-mails start getting flagged for his review. They're hilarious. They share everything. And Lincoln likes them-- he'd be friends with them if he actually talked to them face to face, rather than reading their dirt behind their backs. He should turn them in. Or at least warn them to stop sharing personal stuff on company e-mails. But he doesn't want to stop reading.

And he's falling for Beth, even though he's never actually seen her.

I read Attachments in a single Sunday. I read all day and couldn't put it down. Sometimes, I confess I was a little bored with Lincoln's sections (he's so SLOW! so Midwestern in his inability to make a decision!) even though I appreciated the realness of his conflicts (growing up sucks). 

But the more straight forward, narrative sections paled in comparison to how scintillating and ALIVE the e-mail exchanges between Jennifer and Beth were. I found myself falling in love with them just as Lincoln did, unable to keep myself from sometimes skipping to the next section of exchanges. Rainbow Rowell writes such brilliant dialogue that it's hard not to feel like you're part of the conversation. And that's the magic trick of Attachments: the e-mails function as dialogue. Rowell deliberately courts the issue of "talking head" dialogue (a no-no in the writing world) and makes it work. In fact, she makes that very thing the crux of the novel--and it's brilliant. You can hear Beth's and Jennifer's voices in the writing, and you feel that they're real even before you get to "see them" (which, in this novel is a very long time indeed).  

Highly recommended.

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