Attachments: A Novel

Caveat: I’m in the last stages of the cold from hell, so be gentle when you read this, my first review.

Attachments: A Novel, by Rainbow Rowell. Dutton, . April 14, 2011, $25.95, 323pp.

Jennifer’s a copy editor, Beth’s the movie critic, and Lincoln is the “web security” guy in the IT Department of the newspaper for which they all work. Lincoln, terminally shy and still grieving for the girl who dumped him years ago, is assigned to review all internal emails caught in the company’s filter. The young womens’ emails to each other often contain words flagged inappropriate by the  IT security program, leaving Lincoln to read their emails and, if necessary, issue a warning. All this takes place in the months before the Y2K non-crisis, and it was rather a shock for me to revisit the world of computers but a decade ago.

I confess I did not think I’d like this book: it appeared to be too light, too beach-read-ish, for me ever to be able even to finish it.  I felt that way only through the first chapter. Then, very shortly, I became totally taken by these characters, found them engaging, intriguing, and it was only with  the most diligent restraint did I not finish the book in two or three gulps, it’s that much of a page-turner. The characters, who could have been merely 2-dimensional, deepen as they develop; the plot seems unlikely only on first thought, and this deftly-handled first novel is a winner in humor, continuity, as well as in the handling of some of the most painful of human experiences.

Each of the characters is  adroitly well-drawn, but I have a special fondness for Lincoln’s mom, ex-hippie, anti-establishment, smothering, always cooking things that “look disgusting but taste delicious;” Beth and Jennifer’s emailed conversations are funny, snappy, and above all believable; Lincoln grows slowly from his unrecognized grief into a cohesive person.

It’s a lovely book, witty, well-constructed, and satisfying, and I can’t wait for more from Rainbow Rowell.

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