Attachments was the latest Rainbow Rowell book I read, and I realise I read her books in an extremely mixed up order (not that it really matters), but just not in order of publication. I’ve loved every one of her books and this one was no different. Her books just manage to touch my heart and make me smile, laugh and dare I say it, even cry, when reading about relationships is not usually the type of book I would pick up. Somehow, she writes stories that are so captivating and beautifully written, articulated in a lovely and interesting way, that the fact that it’s not a fantasy or adventure tale (which is what I usually love), doesn’t matter, she has my attention, I am already invested and cannot leave these characters, until their story is complete.
This story focuses on a man called Lincoln and his ongoing battle with his identity, his mother, his job and his insecurities. A man out of university, having taken multiple degrees, stuck in a dead end job, that has him staying up late and reading people’s emails, we first meet him when he’s lost and unsure of himself. He still lives at home with his mother (though, honestly, does that really matter much?), and feels like his life is not his own – he needs his own space, his independence, he needs to be his own person, not just someone’s son.
He seems to find that by reading two women’s emails, Beth and Jennifer. Of course, it’s strange to think that reading another person’s email can help you deal with your own internal battles, and give you the freedom you need to face those, but it does help him. In the end, he ends up getting his own apartment; he goes out more, socialises and mends old friendships, he moves on from Sam, his ex-girlfriend, and finds himself falling in love with Beth, even before he’s seen her.
He begins to fall for Beth through her emails to her best friend, Jennifer, their witty and sarcastic way of speaking makes him laugh and he feels as if he knows them as friends. Through the emails, he finds out that Jennifer is married and Beth has a boyfriend, neither of them, seem to like their job and they both talk about their dissatisfaction with their relationships. At first, he reads the emails to make sure nothing needs ‘flagging’, but then, he can’t seem to stop himself and he can’t seem to stop reading Beth’s emails. He seems to fall in love with a woman, not by the way she looks, not by the lust or sexual feelings, usually associated with men, when feeling something towards a woman, but with her words and without his eyes.
He falls in love “before”, love at first sight, and when Beth says that “men fall in love with their eyes”, he says he fell in love with her, because of how she “wrote about work, about your boyfriend”, he pictured a “girl who was that alive”, who “never got tired of her favourite movies”, who “made every moment, everything she touched and everyone around her feel lighter and sweeter”. He didn’t know what she looked like, and then when he did, he told her that she looked like all those things he’d fallen in love with. He didn’t fall in love with her because of how she looked.
He fell in love with her because of her heart, her words, her mind.
And I love that.
Love isn’t about loving what the other person looks like, it’s about what’s past that, what’s hidden behind their eyes, what they think about, what makes them tick, how their mind works, how their heart feels when you’re holding them. It’s special and unknown to a lot of people. A friend of mine said it’s like feeling warm all over and though yes, it’s frightening at first and it’s painful when it wants to be, it’s so much better than the cliché, ‘I love you, because you’re beautiful’.
Their relationship didn’t form until near the end of the book. I would’ve liked it to happen sooner, but I like that it was realistic in that, things don’t happen with a click of your fingers, love doesn’t just happen out of the blue, it’s more like falling down a rabbit hole and not knowing what to expect. And throughout the book, you are allowed into Lincoln’s world, his friends and the ones he sees just because, Justin for example, but who actually ends up being a friend, he goes to see Beth’s boyfriend’s, Chris’, band. The reader sees how complicated his relationship is with his mother, she still feels like she needs to protect him and he needs freedom, his sister is well off and has her own life, and she often tries to convince Lincoln that he needs to start making changes.
I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness when Lincoln finally started finding himself, he found friends and that family net he needed, he moved out, he left his job and got one that he actually enjoyed. He moved on from Sam, a ghost that seemed to haunt him, his high school girlfriend and sweetheart, who he had thought would be his forever.
He finally realises what he wants and he goes for it.
Beth seems to realise that her cute guy, the one that she’d talk to Jennifer about and see quite a bit, was Lincoln, the man who left an anonymous note on her keyboard when he quit, and at first, she’s unsure about everything. She kisses him though and Lincoln allows himself to fall into his dreams for a moment, until she pulls back. And later, they talk, about everything and they both come to some kind of conclusion that it’s not exactly the normal way of meeting someone, but then again, she did try to follow him home once, and that no one really needed to know how they got to where they were.
The important thing was that they were there.