Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #32: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


Wanting to pull myself out of the rut I’d stumbled into, one which consisted of me more or less refusing to venture outside the small subset of authors I’d latched onto for one reason or another, I browsed the other Cannonball Readers’ reviews in search of any that stuck out. Of all the ones I flitted through, it was narfna’s review of Attachmentsthat stuck out. Was it the name of the author, Rainbow Rowell, which I sincerely hope is her parents’ doing, not a decided upon pseudonym, as the latter is the greater of the two evils by the tiniest of margins? Or was it the cover, sparse yet at the same time appealingly simplistic? narfna’s assessment of the book helped matters too, but doesn’t that go without saying?

I guess, all things considered, there was no one factor that led me to read Attachments. In life, we sometimes find ourselves drawn to something or someone for reasons that, at least at the time, seem inexplicable and this is surely one of them. While I can point to this or that as contributing towards my decision, what we had here was a case of me going with my gut, riding the wave of some indescribable feeling. I hadn’t taken such a tactic often with regards to books, using it more to dictate my television- and movie-watching habits than anything else, yet I hoped my success would carry over.

It did, and to bring into perspective how much, I’ll tell you one thing that should practically say it all. Attachments is the only book besidesThe Salmon of Doubt to make me get all watery-eyed. No tears fell in either case, but I fear that would’ve changed if I hadn’t been barreling through Attachments and Rowell’s words had had the chance to properly linger. I should also mention that, were Adams not dead and were it not his last, The Salmon of Doubt would’ve had no effect on me whatsoever, whereas it was Rowell’s writing in Attachments that wrecked me so thoroughly.

Lincoln, the main character, could be my doppleganger in some alternate universe; his ill-fated relationship with Sam drudged up memories of one of my own, as I saw shades of us in them, and his handling of the situation he comes into by accident is, I regret to say, not far off from what I would invariably do. Like him, I was smitten with Beth and Jennifer from the first email. Reading their correspondence , I was reminded of a story of my own. Difference is, Rowell fully realizes what I could only touch upon. Theirs is, to me, the perfect friendship. Though they may bicker on occasion, it’s because they know their friendship can withstand it.

I never went so far as to fall for one of them, like Lincoln does, but he and I both wanted little more than to put a face to the words, to meet these women whose emails were so routinely flagged, thus ending up under Lincoln’s (not so) watchful eye. I wanted him to introduce himself before he got in too deep. That possibility was quickly abandoned thanks to his reluctance to give up borderline stalking them, be it via their emails or, on an occasion or two, in person.

Now, I imagine many of you keyed in on the word “stalking” in the sentence above and it sent your alarm bells ringing. Normally, I would be abandoning ship right along with you. Keep in mind, though, that I qualified it with “borderline.” Lincoln doesn’t ever devolve into an Edward Cullen, watching Beth sleep. What he does do could be looked at as skeevy in its own right, yes. Except Lincoln is presented so sympathetically by Rowell that I found his actions forgivable, if not a tad understandable, seeing as I already told you that I, on some level, identify with him. Heck, the worse he got, and the more hopeless his situation became by extension, the more I felt sorry for him.

If Beth were to reject him in the end, it would’ve been inarguably justified. Still, I rooted for him to overcome the obstacles he’d knowingly placed between them. Because I think we can all relate to letting our emotions get the better of us, especially with regards to relationships. I know I’ve sabotaged myself on countless occasions and watched as I did, unable to stop myself. If Lincoln can succeed, though, I thought maybe there’s hope for me yet. To find out whether or not he does, however, you’ll just have to read the book.

I can’t guarantee you’ll take to it like narfna and I did. As she put it: “This is probably not a book many other readers will give five stars to.” Even with that in mind, though, I recommend it without reservation. I’m under-read compared to a lot of you here, but if asked to rank all the books I’ve read, Attachments would come in at number four, just below Flowers for Algernon, the entire The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, which I consider one long book, and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. So if I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly, I don’t know what in the hell else I can.

Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.

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