CBR #84 – a/s/lovestory?

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

So many people have lauded Rainbow Rowell I had to give her a shot.  And I was not disappointed.  I’m a sucker for a good shoegazy lovestory.  Some of my favorite bands are whiny punk-pop where they keen about their overwhelming love for an alternative girl.  And Rowell does awkward so well.

It’s a love story that can only really work on paper.  Cinematically this wouldn’t be as powerful.  Lincoln works IT security at a Nebraska newspaper.  His job is to monitor internet usage and illicit content.  As part of that, he reads emails that get flagged for hitting buzzwords.  So as part of that, he ends up reading this email exchange between two women at the newspaper, a copy editor and the film reviewer.  And of course, he develops a crush on them both.

It’s already a fascinating concept — essentially cyberstalking cum eavesdropping on the private lives of these two women.  It’s his job, but he hates his job.  And at what point can he finally say, “Oh, yeah, I know all these things about you because I’ve been spying on you?”

Now you couple this with the characters.  Lincoln is kind of an awkward shy giant, a huge dude who lives at home with his doting mother and is still reeling from his first big breakup with his high school sweetheart.  Lincoln’s just adrift through life, and has no game.  Jennifer, the copy editor, is feeling pressure from her husband to have a baby, and she maybe kinda wants one too.  Jennifer’s also fighting the fat girl blues.  Beth is in a relationship with Chris, a godlike musician, who won’t marry her.  Beth’s the film reviewer, and she then starts writing about the Cute Guy she spied in the office — who turns out to be Lincoln.

And I haven’t even touched on the ancillary characters yet like Lincoln’s mom, his sister Eve, his d-bag partybro Justin, his D&D crew. Rowell layers the Christjesus out of this story, and so what seems like it should never work is so perfectly accentuated.  It’s a complicated, slightly melancholy love story, and despite a kind of convenient ending, it’s also super well put together for a first novel.


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