Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Published in 2012 by Orion.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: contemporary.

My rating:

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 details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange.  

At first, their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but 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.

After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart… and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.


If you’ve been around for the last couple of months, you may have noticed my growing love for Rainbow Rowell. I reviewed Eleanor and Park and Fangirl and even wrote an Author Addiction post about her. Today, I have another review for you – Attachments is so far her only adult novel I’ve read (I still have Landline on my tbr list – I’m trying to give myself some space because it’s the only book I haven’t read yet and I’ll have to wait and wait for the next one…). 

In Attachments, we meet Lincoln, an IT guy who works night shifts at a newspaper which just began using internet (it’s 1999, people, I was 12 at the time, I remember everyone freaking out because they thought Y2K would wipe ALL TECHNOLOGY – which is insane if you think back on it now but what did we know then…). Lincoln is in charge of this computer program that monitors the employees’ e-mails in order to make sure that they aren’t talking about personal stuff/watching p*rn in the middle of their work day. He’s supposed to report any suspicious activity – he sends the offender(s) a message – but he doesn’t report a conversation between Beth and Jennifer, two friends who work at the offices upstairs. Beth does movie reviews and Jennifer is a copy editor; their relationship is based on these e-mails and contains a fair amount of personal info. 

Anyway, since Lincoln doesn’t report them the first time (he deems them harmless, which they are), he suddenly feels like it would be weird to report them now, but their messages keep popping up in his inbox. And he keeps reading them, getting to know them in the process.

Now, I know you feel like Lincoln is an absolute creep. And he is. He knows he is. But he’s also absolutely harmless, a total introvert, he lives with his mom and is still hung up on his high school girlfriend. And again, you’re probably saying: How the hell is this guy a love interest? But it works, guys, it works, he’s clueless and innocent and a really lovely person underneath. He’s also jealous of Beth’s boyfriend and has borderline stalker issues, but that’s a minor complication. (Look, I know he sounds bad but… just trust me with this, okay? He’s cool.)

Beth and Jennifer are the best, though. Their friendship is genuine and warm, they even bicker sometimes, but always bounce back to being great friends. I wish there were more relationships like this in books. I miss great female friendships. Their everyday troubles and bigger issues are considered with such warmth – I can’t tell you how happy I was to read their correspondence.

Once again, I have to say that Rowell wrote the perfect book for me. I read this in two evenings, laughing and tearing up, and immediately made a friend read it, too (she loved it). Rowell writes amazing characters and takes a relatively simple, everyday story to a new level of relatableness (that is totally a word). 

If you liked any of Rowell’s other books, I can’t recommend this one enough. If you’re used to reading YA, don’t worry, this isn’t a hard-core adult book. It’s just a book about adults trying to figure their lives out in the best way possible. And if you’ve never tried contemporaries before, you can’t go wrong with Rowell in general. She really is a master.


Have you read Attachments? What did you think?

Do you remember life before internet? When did you get it first? Or a mobile phone? (I was 14 when I got a phone and 17 when I got my own computer with the huge monitor and an internet cable with dial-up connection… ahh, the good times… *shudder*)

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • Oh…I think you just sold me on this book. Honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t read more by Rainbow Rowell because I adored Fangirl.

    We hooked up to the internet when I was in 6th grade (age 11-ish), which would have been about…1999-ish? 2000-ish? It was shortly after that that I started building my own webpages and blogs, actually. I didn’t get my own cell phone until I was 17 though. That was around the time that I started breaking out of my shell, became social, and started going out with friends. My family just wanted to be in contact with me just in case. I didn’t get my first smart phone until I was like…25. I feel like I’m a late bloomer compared to most of my friends who were hooked up to the WWW much earlier than I.

    • I first read Eleanor and Park more than a year ago, it took me a while to get to Fangirl, too. But then I borrowed both Fangirl and Attachments from the library at the same time and just binged on them. And Carry On came out shortly after, so I grabbed that as well. She’s a good author to binge on, I think! :)

      I didn’t get a smartphone until last year, I was one of the last ones here probably because my MOM had one before me. My old phone just refused to die and I dislike switching technology unless it’s broken. But I don’t know, maybe staying connected to the internet ALL THE TIME isn’t that great? Sure it’s great but I also feel kind of naked when I forget my phone at home, which is just weird.

  • Your praises for Rainbow Rowell have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month I saw her book Fangirl on sale and I grabbed it! I’m really curious to check out her stuff!

    • YAY! :D I hope you like it. I feel like I’ve been going on about her books for three months now and I’ll stop soon, I promise, I only have one more book to review! :)

  • I loved Attachments! I think it might’ve been the first Rowell book I read, even. It’s just… lovely.

    • I KNOW! I feel GOOD when I read Rowell’s books. I mean, Eleanor and Park broke my heart but it’s such a wonderful story that I can’t really hold a grudge.

  • I really liked Attachments! I know, Lincoln seems creepy, but he isn’t. He’s sweet and harmless and lonely. And Beth and Jennifer are the best. I remember the whole Y2K thing too which was hilarious.

    • Ah, hello, fellow fan! :) Yeah, Lincoln should have been an instantly repulsive character but Rowell just makes his awkwardness work somehow. The fact that he falls in love with Beth without ever seeing her is a huge point in his favor! :)
      And yes, it’s crazy to think about Y2K now – so funny but back then everyone freaked out!

  • Before reading your review, I had Attachments on my tbr shelf. Now that I’ve read your review, I REALLY NEED to read it :D I adored Fangirl so I’m hoping that Attachments will continue along that vein. It sounds charming and I can see really liking the characters as you describe them here, yes even Lincoln LOL!

    • Well, Attachments is a very different story from Fangirl – but I think it has the same warmth + Rowell writes such amazing characters that it’s impossible not to love them.
      I hope you like it – and Lincoln, too, he’s such a nice guy. :)

  • Stormy C

    I love this book too. It could completely not work with the premise, but Rowell manages to pull it off. It’s my favorite of her adult books for sure, and I love that it has such a strong friendship present too, even though it’s only seen through Lincoln’s POV really.
    It’s interesting to me that you got a phone before your own computer–I feel for most of the people I know it’s the opposite! I got my own computer when I was twelve, but it was a hand-me-down really. I got a really basic phone at 14 when I started high school, mostly because I was involved in a ton of extracurricular activities & would often have to borrow friend’s phones to let my parents know I was done and they needed to pick me up.

    • YES to the friendship. I really miss my university days when I would see my closest friends every day – somehow everyone drifts apart after finishing school.
      Hm, I don’t know how that went down. I just know my brother and I got the same phones (the same kind) and our phone numbers are still really similar, just a 2 digit difference. :)
      We did have a family computer – or rather, my dad had one because he worked from home, too (he’s a university professor so he needed it). And my brother and I could type our school assignments on it, I think. But I got my own computer later (and yeah, it was a hand-me-down, too). Do you still remember floppy disks? :D I was super cool because I had one with a transparent yellow casing. ;)

  • Maraia

    Hahaha, Lincoln does sound like a creep when you spell it out like that. Still, it totally worked for me as well. I’d like to re-read it soon, if I can find the audiobook at the library. (I’m currently doing an audio re-read of Eleanor & Park, and it’s fantastic.)

    Vaguely? I guess I remember the days of painfully slow (and loud!) dial-up more than I do the days of no Internet. Before high school, I mostly used it for emailing my international friends and playing Neopets. XD

    I actually resisted getting a cell phone, but my mom wanted me to have one when I started driving at 16. I didn’t get my own laptop until I was 18 and leaving for college, which I personally think is completely reasonable.

    • Ahh, with the right narrator, Attachments would make an incredible audiobook! And yeah, I kind of want to re-read all of Rowell’s books already but I’m afraid of getting too fed up with them so I’m forcing myself to wait for a while.

      Oh, yeah, the SOUND that thing made – kkhhhschhhh-ping-ping-ping – BEAUTIFUL. But only in retrospect, I hated how slow it was even then but now I can’t imagine going back to that sort of connection.

      And yeah, we didn’t really need computers in high school – but nowadays, I think kids mostly have them as teenagers already – times are a-changing. This is one of the issues we’ll have to address sooner or later with Kiddo – how much technology he’ll have access to. On one hand, I don’t want him over-exposed and shut out from the real world but on the other, he’d be seriously handicapped if he didn’t know his way around computers in this day and age. *sigh* We’ll see.

      • Maraia

        That would be sad! Don’t let that happen, haha.

        Yeah, that will be tricky, finding the happy medium. I mean, you can always have a family computer that’s used in a public room, rather than letting him use his own computer where you can’t walk by and see what he’s up to. Good luck! :D

  • Lovely read. I do remember the Y2K time. I was a kid then. I thought the world would end. And when my dad bought his first cellphone we were not allowed to touch it. And it was well protected in a case

    • Haha, yeah, it was scary for a while, this millenium thing, wasn’t it?
      And yes, my dad got a case for his phone, too, it was one of those flip phones and had an antenna. :D And a screen the size of my pinky finger, I think.

  • I am going to be rereading this sometime soon you are convincing more and more on this. I enjoyed it last time I read it, although I developed doubts halfway through from Lincoln’s weird stalking because I could not see it not ending badly for him. You are completely right that he’s harmless, I love him as a character, but I could see no way for this to become apparent for anyone else because he is basically stalking through emails. I doesn’t look good! Thankfully Rowell is the best writer and this book was sorted out well and pretty believably.

    I did find it funny reading about the coming millennium, I was 8 (almost 9) when it happened and I completely didn’t understand the worry about the millennium bug (I thought it was a virus, it was only when I lived with people doing Computer Science that it was explained to me that it was literally about how dates are displayed and concern about how the bug would affect things) the way it was spoken about on the news I was expecting planes to fall out of the sky or something. I remember getting our first computer, I can’t believe people don’t remember the dial up sound, I hated that noise but a girl it work who’s 20 doesn’t remember it.

    • Yep, Lincoln’s story looks like it’s headed for disaster, you have to give it to Rowell, she can turn the weirdest people into loveable characters.

      I still have no idea what the millennium bug was supposed to do! Yeah, people were scared the world would end or something, it’s funny in retrospect but wasn’t as amusing in 1999.
      Ah, those juniors. My kids won’t even know what a videotape is, except as a curiosity, won’t know the joy of making mix tapes (or mix CDs in high school, major improvement!). But it’s sort of like I never really learned to use the gramophone and vinyls, I guess. It’s just that progress is so much faster these days!

  • The Bookwitch

    I loved this! i haven’t read Fangirl and Carry On yet so Attachments is second to my favorite RRowell books! Great review!

    • If you liked Attachments, I think you’ll enjoy Fangirl, I really loved both. Which one is your No 1 then? Eleanor & Park? Landline?