Published by Dutton Adult on April 14, 2011
"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
Attachments is my second book by Rainbow Rowell, after Fangirl. I listened to it on audiobook, which is the perfect format for this story. Attachments is all about…attachments – those that currently exist, those that have shattered, and those that have yet to be formed. It’s set in 1999, so we’re able to travel back in time to when the Internet was still the somewhat new world of the World Wide Web and when access to an email account at work wasn’t necessarily a given. Jennifer and Beth are friends and colleagues at a small newspaper in Nebraska. When their employer decides to give everyone an email account, Jennifer and Beth abuse the hell out of it, sending long, personal emails back and forth. We get to know them solely through these email exchanges. This is where the audiobook really shines, because it added life and personality to the people behind the emails. We quickly learn that Jennifer is married and stressing about whether or not she should have a baby. Beth is in a relationship with a musician, but she’s not completely content.
In comes Lincoln to spice things up. While Beth and Jennifer’s chapters are comprised solely of emails, the alternating chapters feature Lincoln’s third person POV. He works the night shift in the technology department at the paper. What he thought would be an interesting job in information security turned out to be glorified email checker. The email filters catch the emails with the designated naughty words, and Lincoln’s job is to read them to see if they warrant further attention. His job is a joke, and what’s worse is that he knows it. His only bright spot is the emails from Beth and Jennifer which frequently get forwarded to him since they decided to ignore the company policy and have a little fun.
Lincoln doesn’t need to do more than scan the emails, but he is soon engrossed in the personal lives of the women. He’s captivated by their kindness, their humor, and their openness. I realize that the way I typed this might make Lincoln seem like a creepy stalker but he is not. He knows (and we know) that what he’s doing isn’t totally ethical, but we forgive him for it. He’s too decent and good-hearted to blame him. And if I was reading those emails, I don’t think I’d be able to stop either. I’d be thinking, “I want to be friends with these women!” They are so supportive of each other, there’s no jealousy, and they call each other out when necessary.
Lincoln is particularly drawn to Beth, which is a good thing, since she’s the non-married one. But he has no idea what she looks like, and even though they work at the same company, they’ve never met. Beth, on the other hand, has no reason to know Lincoln exists, and she certainly has no idea that he’s reading all of her personal emails. One day, she sees Lincoln in the office and is immediately attracted to him, but she doesn’t know his name. And soon, Lincoln is reading Beth’s emails about “my cute guy,” and he realizes they’re about him. So we wait and wait for them to meet. There are a series of close calls, but it seems like it may never happen. Of course, we know it will, and the only thing left to wonder is if Lincoln will reveal his secret, or even if he should. I was on the fence about this. One the one hand, I’d be completely creeped out if I was Beth, and I learned that this stranger knew intimate details about my life, even if (or especially if) I was attracted to him. But on the other hand, I wanted them to get together so badly, and I didn’t want Lincoln to spoil it. Arrrgh! Moral dilemma alert!
No matter what happens, Rainbow Rowell has written another sharp, funny, emotion-filled story.