Publisher: Dutton, April 2011
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"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.
What would he say . . . ?
When Lincoln signs up to be an internet security officer at the local newspaper, he expects to protect the paper from hackers, malicious attacks and prepare for Y2K (remember that?). Instead, he finds himself manning the webfence folder and sending out warnings to employees who use company emails to send each other dirty jokes. Not exactly what he had in mind. But when Beth, the movie critic, and Jennifer, a copyeditor, end up in his review folder, Lincoln can’t bring himself to turn them in. Instead, he finds himself drawn into their world, something that forces him to reconsider his own life.
On the premise, Attachments sounds downright weird. The IT guy reading personal email conversations between two friends who think they’re spilling their secrets and gossiping only with each other? How on earth can this be a love story?
I had the same thoughts when my mom told me how much she loved this story, but after picking up the audiobook from the library, I fell in love with this unlikely romance. Why? It’s pretty simple. Rowell‘s characters are simply amazing.
We all know someone like Lincoln, a person so destroyed by their first love that they still carry the scars. In his late twenties, Lincoln has earned two master’s degrees, lives with his mom, and plays Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends. While there’s nothing wrong with those things, the abject sadness about his life permeates his character. He’s unhappy, but doesn’t know how to fix it (despite his sister’s constant criticism).
I loved how Rowell made this a story essentially about Lincoln. From the first moment he sets foot in that dingy IT office, Attachments is Lincoln’s journey from an awkward, nerdy computer guy at odds with himself to a more confident, nerdy computer guy who is comfortable in his own skin. He’s the underdog, the hero, the little bit of each of us that still hurts from that first love.
Rowell’s exploration of the repercussions of first love fascinated me. Both Beth and Lincoln are scarred from their first loves, yet neither are aware of the extent of those scars. Beth’s longtime boyfriend Chris is more obsessed with his music and occasionally mentally checks out of their relationship while Lincoln unknowingly compares every woman he meets to the 18 year old version of Sam, his high school sweetheart. It’s a reminder that while the sting of first love may never quite go away, it’s okay to let it go.
But Rowell doesn’t stop with first love. She explores (and occasionally pushes) the boundaries of familial love, love between friends, relationships with coworkers, and, most importantly, loving yourself. Attachments isn’t just a story about an unlikely romance between the IT guy and the movie critic. It’s a story about the attachments in our lives.