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A Y2K Romance

It’s 1999 and Lincoln hasn’t had a girlfriend in a decade, still lives with his mother, and has just taken a job at a newspaper where his main task is to read company emails that are caught in the network filter and flagged as inappropriate. Though he is supposed to reprimand those who are using work email for personal correspondence, he doesn’t ever notify Beth, the movie reviewer, or her best friend Jennifer, the copy editor, of their violations — because he likes them. They seem smart, cool, and fun. He likes reading their emails. In fact, he develops a crush on Beth, even though she’s got a sexy and mysterious lead-guitarist boyfriend. Then he realizes that he is the cute guy Beth and Jennifer are always mentioning in their emails. But how do you tell a girl you fell in love with her before first sight? And even though Beth thinks he’s cute, will she still like him when he realizes he spends most Saturday nights playing Dungeons & Dragons?

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is an adorable romance. Rowell inverts a traditional romantic comedy by telling it from the guy’s perspective. We only get glimpses into Beth and Jennifer’s lives through their email exchanges, and the other chapters follow Lincoln as he stumbles through life, not sure where he belongs. We get all the tropes of your typical rom-com — the womanizing sidekick, the makeover, a bad break-up, missed chances and near misses, even a wedding and a baby — but packaged in a refreshing way.

Though I was skeptical about a book comprised mostly of email exchanges, the format worked. Beth and Jennifer’s friendship was honest and fresh. They were supportive but firm with one another, and even talked about things besides the men in their lives!  Since I’m at that just-before-thirty stage, a lot of their insecurities and dilemmas were familiar. I think a lot of women will relate to their conversations.

The ending tied up the romance rather neatly, and like all those movies, ends just as the characters get together. Will Lincoln and Beth live happily ever after? I hope so. This isn’t the type of adult fiction I normally read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The same story in the hands of a less insightful author would have, quite honesty, fallen flat. But Rowell has a way of crafting characters who you feel like you know and inviting cynics to revel in optimism, if only for a couple of hours. Readers who want something light and fun but don’t relate to most chick-lit should check this out. It’s clear that Rowell gets nerds and portrays real characters, not the magazine spread types that seem so prevalent in these types of stories.

– Molly, YA

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