Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I realized while scrolling through my extensive ravings for Rainbow Rowell’s books, I’ve failed to include Attachments in the excitement. We’re gathered here today to mend that mistake.

“Or maybe he was just afraid to do something real.”

Funny to consider that Attachments used to be my least favorite Rowell book, maybe a bit above Landline, simply because I could not be bothered to even think about the adult world when I first read those books. And now, Attachments is like my second favorite book of hers right after Fangirl. You know what that is? insecure hbo

Who knew I’d become an adult so soon? They grow up so fast.

If you asked in short, why I love this book, I’d say it’s because of the characters. With Lincoln’s fear of moving forward in life, yet afraid of standing still. Plus, the moms in this book are something to behold. Attachments is full of Rainbow Rowell’s excellent dialogue, thanks to Beth and Jennifer’s email exchanges. Also, it’s an obvious biased reason to love a character, but Lincoln is such a Cath (Fangirl).

“If he didn’t look, he didn’t risk accidental eye contact.”

I guess I really love my introverted representation. For a minute there, I let myself wonder how Cath and Lincoln would get along. But given that they’re both main characters taken from Rainbow’s mind, it feels taboo crossing them over, as if they’re related or something because they were created by the same person.     

Okay, that’s it in short. But you know we don’t do short around here, so let me rave extensively about the beauty of this storyline:

  • I think I secretly love Attachments so much, mainly for the fact that all I ever wanted is a guy to interpret my telepathic gestures at him. So of course, I secretly took joy in Lincoln’s adjusted behavior upon reading Beth’s thoughts on him. It’s like he has insider info. I mean not like – he actually does, but still… It’s kind of a dream not having to actually approach the guy. He knows your opinion, feels the same, and is secretly reciprocating your thoughts to show ‘I’m here. I like you too.’ Mr. Darcy would approve.

“If this were a Jane Austen novel, it wouldn’t be so bad—if you were intercepting my letters, and I was peeking over your garden hedge …Computers make everything worse.”

  • You know it’s a lot to take in the invasion of privacy that happens so I felt a tiny bit relieved when Beth would do the same to him, like trying to follow him home, and planning an imaginative life with him and feeling betrayed when she thinks he’s already settled down

“Wondering what his name is. And whether he’s as nice as he seems. And whether he likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain …

Would you believe it if I said that song was stuck in my head for hours after…

Also, funny that this isn’t her first rodeo of creeping on a guy. See below how she met Chris, her douche boyfriend, who we all, including Beth, ignore (does it still count as ignoring if he ignores you first?):

“One Tuesday night in November, I saw him at the library. I spent the next four Tuesday nights there, hoping it was a pattern. It wasn’t. Sometimes I’d allow myself to follow him to his 11:30 class in Andrews Hall, and then I’d have to run across campus to make it to my class in the Temple Building.
By the end of the semester, I was long past the point of starting a natural, casual conversation with him. I stopped trying to make eye contact.
I admire her sheer power of will to see something through.
  • The humor in Rainbow’s books remains impeccable. The amount of times I simply wrote “lol” in my notes (the quickest way to keep reading but pinning what made me laugh) is astronomical. Just to state a few examples:

“<<Jennifer to Beth>> Hmmm …I think I’d like to be a stay-at-home mom with no kids.”

Seriously, where does she come up with these gold one-liners?

“Like Lincoln, most of the girls had eyes only for the guitarist.”

Just the wording of that phrase alone is hilarious.

Oh, any and all conversations with any and all of the moms in this book receives an instant five-star rating.
“You came to kindergarten with me for the first month.”
“You asked me to.”
“I was five,” Eve said. “You should have told me no.”
“You were scared.”
“I was five.”
“I didn’t send Lincoln until he was seven, and I’m so glad. He was so much more prepared.”
Lincoln had been prepared for kindergarten. He could already read and do some addition and subtraction.”
What a mom gem.
Another one: “I think they were happier about my breakup than Kiley’s wedding. “I knew it was a mistake to let him be in the family picture,” my mother said.
They don’t make them like this in other books. I want more!

“Doris clucked and choked on her cake. She put her hand on his shoulder. Lincoln hoped that Beth wasn’t about to walk in.”

Ha! So she won’t write about it the next day accusing her Cute Guy of cheating (with an elderly woman)? It’s like he hears Beth’s voice narrating his life. I love it.

  • I also adore this book so much for giving us that “Falling …Was he falling? Or was he just bored?” This hits the spot! Both Lincoln and Beth are on standstill in their personal lives with no way out so they use each other as this safe haven in their head… I want more.

“<<Beth to Jennifer>> I can’t give him up. What would I have to look forward to?”

Above all, these two represented the way we can let our fantasies take over so we’ll never have to do anything real.
“No, he was just going to kiss her. He wasn’t going to wait. She’d kiss him back. He was absolutely certain that she would kiss him back.
And then he’d tell her that he loved her.
And then he’d tell her his name.
And then and then and then … what?”
Me creating scenarios in my head be like…
  • Reading the email with the phrase “trying not to bite his shoulder.” bookspoils

There’s so much longing present in this book that it only hit me toward the end when they finally kiss that it is the only kiss in the book. They live so vicariously in their head, I almost forgot no one actually instigates anything in their real-life until they do. What a shock that was. I WANT MORE! It was like hitting the play button after being stuck on rewind for so long.

“because I’m not 16 anymore. That’s when it hit me— I’m not 16 anymore.
And I don’t mean that in an offhand “well, obviously” way. I mean it like “Jack and Diane.” Like, “Oh, yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.”
This made me hit the same realization. Help. Oh, to be young and… and what? I love the idea of reverting to my younger self but there’s also so much pain that accompanies those teen years that it’s honestly not worth it. But oh, to think of all the books that await to be read for the first time…
  • Lastly, I’ll indulge in sharing random moments of resemblance to Fangirl because it’s my favorite book and I look for it in everything::

“<<Jennifer to Beth>> Really. I think you’re pathetic. It’s almost painfully embarrassing to read your messages when you’re like this.”

Reagan before Reagan existed.

“<<Beth to Jennifer>> How did he win you over?
<<Jennifer to Beth>> He just wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept sitting behind me in our poetry- writing class and asking me if I had plans for lunch. Like I wanted this muscle-bound blond guy to watch me eat.
<<Beth to Jennifer>> I can just see him. A farm boy with sexy sousaphone shoulders …”
(Puts on best Jeopardy game-voice) What is Levi for 100 points
Also, Lincoln kissing Christine in their college days while studying for a final? What is Cath and Levi for 200 points.
Okay, thank you for letting me indulge in that.  I’ll leave at that, since I don’t want Jennifer calling me pathetic.
This review has been a long time coming. So I’m glad to have it up to revisit time and again, as I commonly do with my reviews for Rainbow Rowell books.
Please indulge in a copy for yourself or your loved ones. Choose your pick of the litter:

Can we take a moment to admire the beauty of all these books put together:

Girlhood and Coming-of-Age Review: The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqCyQTCg3_d/

I was on the search for a lightweight book to bring with me for a day full of travel, when the simple beauty of this cover, filled in tan, freckled skin, enthralled this fellow tan, freckled gal to pick it from the tucked away library shelf. Funnily enough, I made a trek back to the library later that same day to grab the book because it wouldn’t escape my mind from that morning sighting when I had failed to pick it up.

Rainbow Rowell recommended Rufi Thorpe’s Dear Fang, With Love years ago, which meant for me that this author would nail down life specificities the way I enjoy in Rowell’s books. The Girls from Corona del Mar did not disappoint within the first page, reading about a loving family’s presence in Lorrie Ann’s life.The Girls from Corona del Mar bookspoils

And it took me a single sitting, reading swiftly through ten pages, to realize this was something to hold on to. I particularly enjoyed how the first couple of pages started with a tantalizing proclamation, “You’re going to have to break one of my toes,” then veered off to familiarize these characters, and ended the paragraph the same way it started so that we’re included in their motives; a full circle.

Set in the mid-90s, The Girls from Corona del Mar follows two best friends, Mia and Lorrie Ann, through spot-on observations on life, growing together and apart, and always having that nature pull to return to each other. This read like an extremely attentive and introspective novel, full of vivid stories on Mia’s lifelong friendship with Lorrie Ann. My mind was bursting with all that I wanted to note down with each page I read. You know it’s a good book when you close your eyes at the end of the day and continue completing the story in your head.

Normally, friendships between girls are stowed away in boxes of postcards and ticket stubs, but whatever was between me and Lorrie Ann was not so easy to set aside.

I was surprised to find a unique storytelling mode where, instead of having two narrators who each tell their own tale, we follow Mia’s perspective of Lorrie Ann’s toils through the details Lor gives her best friend. You can peek this in the passage below:

“I love you,” Lorrie Ann lied. (Was it a lie? I never knew, exactly. I couldn’t understand her love for Jim and so I made my peace with Lor’s decisions by assuming her feelings for him were either feigned or a delusion, but perhaps they were not. Perhaps she loved him with the same animal part of herself that couldn’t let that baby go.)

I really liked how the author gained control with this little insert because Mia went a little off-task into Lor’s (the name Lorrie Ann is a pain to type) world, and the usage of first-person brought it back to the narrator.

I’ll be honest by saying right off the bat I was as wrapped around Lorrie Ann’s finger as much as Mia. Something about the utter kindness and goodness of her always shone so brightly on the page. It’s best told in this incident that captures Lor’s character through the author’s storytelling:

Once, when we were about ten, Lorrie Ann had been given too much change at the Chevron snack shop: she had paid with a ten, but the man must have thought she gave him a twenty. Lorrie Ann didn’t even notice until we were five blocks away, and then insisted we walk all the way back so that she could give him that unearned ten-dollar bill, which as I recall was soft and wrinkled like wilted lettuce. I am sure Lorrie Ann would never remember that day, such an insignificant anecdote, but in my mind it became a central organizing allegory about the differences between us.
Everything I had in life was half stolen, a secret, wilt-y ten-dollar bill that Lorrie Ann would have been too good to keep, but which I could not force myself to give away.

What makes so much of these eyeful remarks is how grounded in reality they are.

I was initially won over by Lorrie Ann with this truthful statement when faced clearly, at only eighteen, with an impossible choice: “But don’t you learn to love someone?” Lorrie Ann asked.

This right here is what too many novels fail to realize when they proclaim that love is all or nothing. Love isn’t some overbearing emotion that takes control of your sane thought process, love is something that you need to discover how to do with morality. “You don’t fall in love. You grow in love.” Love is recognizing the grandiosity of the person standing before you; love is including that person within your own being.

Her thought process of said impossible choice is demonstrated touchingly. She had this terrible death happen within her family, which she concludes as her fault for not being good enough or observant enough of the signs in her life, so she doesn’t want to set off something now that’ll make bad things appear back in her life. She chooses what she deems the right thing. What follows changes the trajectory of her life and Mia’s along with her.

And yet it was not me but Lorrie Ann whom the vultures of bad luck kept on visiting, darkening the yard of her house, tapping on the panes of her windows with their musty, blood-crusted beaks.“Wake up, little girl!” they cried.“We’ve got something else for you!

I felt suspended the entire time I read through this reflective and tumultuous story. So much of this novel is built on the many tragedies that befall Lor despite her best. And I kept wallowing over just how many there are… I mean, I came to relish whenever Lor walked back into Mia’s life, though knowing it’s only when something unfortunate happened made it a bittersweet pill to swallow.

At a certain point, when the only times these two communicate is when something bad occurs to Lorrie Ann, it became an exhausting process of “Oh, what now?” It read like a condensed version of A Little Life, which I liked for the subtle quips on life but disliked immensely for throwing tragedy after tragedy my way. It takes away from the realness of life when we only meet these two characters when tragedy strikes. I wanted to spend more time in the in-between moments that make up a lifetime. When everything’s shit, however, it makes you appreciate little gestures of kindness, simple as a sweet nurse over the phone reassuring Lorrie Ann.

On a random note, I enjoyed how the title chapters are indicant of what’s ahead. It’s a little touch that shows how much a book means to an author.

And I’m still so in awe at how this book kept me enthralled page by page with its eyeful observations. This is an author that lets no moment slip by; you have to be really sensitive of your reality to succeed in writing down what you see in real life. And I, for one, am a complete sucker when it comes to introspective novels that reveal a deeper layer that lies within us.

The Girls from Corona del Mar nails down the complexity of maintaining a long-distance friendship. I admired, in particular, what was said about feeling like a character in a book, like, you don’t exist unless I pick you up.

“That came out awful, but what I mean is that when you are a half a world away, it seems more like something happening in a novel, you know, and we’ve lived apart for so many years now that you are kind of like that for me, except when I see you, then you are suddenly terribly real, and that made Jim’s death real and now I feel like I can’t catch my breath because everything is too real for words.”
Lorrie Ann looked at me critically for a moment, as though I were a gem she were assessing through one of those tiny eyepieces. Then she said, “I know exactly what you mean. For most of the year you are just a character in a book I’m reading. And then when you do show up, I think:  Oh, God, it’s her! It’s her. The girl I knew when I was a kid. My friend.”

This is such a sweet moment too real for words… And then this moment on how talking over the phone never fully captures the true experience in a single phrase: “I’m not sure,” Lorrie Ann said, and I wished I could read her face.”

They hold this interesting dynamic wherein Mia feels forever endowed by Lorrie Anne’s virtue. Her “opposite twin.”

I did not pursue my relationship with either for personal reasons, but because I sincerely believed they were the two best specimens of humanity I had yet to run across on the planet.

But when this book turns bad, it goes down all the way. It hit a point of no return after the 150-page mark, and I was left dumbfounded. I felt truly betrayed by the inorganic change in character happening halfway through. I had spent so much time with this book, singing its praises, only to have this abrupt tomfoolery wherein the most moral character had everything immoral thrown her way. I’m still in a state of shock. It came to the point where I had to point the book cover face down on my nightstand, till its fast return to the library the following day, because  I couldn’t bear to look at it without some semblance of anger flaring up inside me. It felt like two completely different stories were being told: One of genuine storytelling, using many sharp observations about family life, and telling a truthful tale of girlhood. And the other is focused on tearing down what we build up for the past 100 pages. Like, when Mia starts being the moral compass for Lorrie Ann that’s when you know something fishy is going down in the storytelling.

 

 

This unnatural change of pace made me feel beyond exasperated. It’s all that I had been warned about on immorality was shown with a turn of a page. W H Y ??? I’ll just say one thing: Those questioning the system of justice while claiming that ridding a child of its life because of a disability are exactly those that the system exists for. I mean:

“Zach’s suffering is not more than a child’s in the Congo just because we are genetically related.”

How is one supposed to react calmly to reading such utter BS? She’s talking so coldly about her own son, and I’m wondering how this is the same person from the start of this book. I cannot stand when good characters are destroyed this way. This felt like an amateurish and insensitive dissection on a character’s life.

I just don’t have the patience anymore to deal with such crude remarks being made for n, such as comparing genocides and reducing both in the process of doing so.

Cue my search for a new favorite book to calm my storming rage.

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Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell, or Fate, Time, Television and True Love

The funny thing with Landline is that I didn’t even fully mean to reread it, I just started the first few pages and then bang I was flying through it in true Rainbow Rowell fashion (see: Why I Fangirl over Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (Spoilers: Levi)). I felt like I was at an all-you-can-eat buffet, filling myself with one more page, one more…

As far as time machines go, a magic telephone is pretty useless.

TV writer Georgie McCool can’t actually visit the past; all she can do is call it, and hope it picks up. And hope he picks up — because once Georgie realizes she has a magic phone that calls into the past, all she wants is make things right with her husband, Neal.

Maybe she can fix the things in their past that seem unfixable in the present. Maybe this stupid phone is giving her a chance to start over. . . . Does Georgie want to start over?

A heart-wrenching—and hilarious—take on fate, time, television and true love, Landline asks if two people are ever really on the same path, or whether love just means finding someone who will keep meeting you halfway.

Also funny is the fact when I first read Landline, back in 2015, I came out of it thinking it was my least favorite Rowell book, simply because at that time in my life I couldn’t have cared less about married people. But with this reread now, coming after three years, I can’t get enough of family-based stories. So I was delighted to discover how with time my perspective had changed and matured to the point of gobbling up every little detail concerning the marriage chronicled in here.

It’s so hard to capture all that I loved (because there’s so many specifics) but I tried my best by including it all below:

  • Rainbow Rowell’s signature humor is ever-present and on-point.

“It was so rare to make Neal laugh. . . .
Georgie used to tease him about being a waste of dimples. “Your face is like an O. Henry story. The world’s sweetest dimples and the boy who never laughs.”
“I laugh.”
“When? When you’re alone?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Every night when I’m sure everyone is asleep, I sit on my bed and laugh maniacally.”

I was trying to find the best way to describe the humor, when I stumbled upon this interview between Rainbow Rowell and her audio narrator Rebecca Lowman, discussing the book:

Rowell: “…You know what, I don’t like punchline, sort of zingy humor. So I’m not drawn to comedians who are very big. I like people who are just sort of talking and they’re funny when they’re talking. …”

This. This is exactly it.

As well as this quote from the book on savoring what we hold precious:

“I put it in my Save Box,” she said.
“What’s that?”
“It’s actually just a box. I, uh . . . I hate that feeling, you know, when you’re thinking about something you’ve read or heard, and you thought it was so smart at the time, but now you can’t remember it. I save things I don’t want to lose track of.”

This right here hits the core on why I write such extensive notes during my reading.

  • Georgie’s office scenes with Seth (and Scotty) reminded me then why I had such a hard reading this book the first time. They weren’t my favorite scenes since no one was shining or bringing anything new to the table. In particular, Seth threw me off my game at the end because I feel like he was flexing, what Reagan in Fangirl so lovingly calls, his best friend muscles just to remind everyone that he came first. I’m not a fan. Also: He can’t write anything decent down without Georgie around, which makes him a true Nick.

“They were supposed to end up together, Seth and Georgie.
Well, technically, they had ended up together. They’d talked every day since that first day they met.
But they were supposed to end up together-together. Everyone thought it would happen—Georgie had thought it would happen.
Just as soon as Seth exhausted his other possibilities, as soon as he worked through his queue of admirers. He hadn’t been in any hurry, and Georgie didn’t have a say in the matter. She’d taken a number. She was waiting patiently.
And then, one day, she wasn’t.”

  • And since we’re on the topic of my favorite Rowell book, I was so keen on reading about Neal and Georgie together because it felt like we were seeing Cath and Levi chronicled from Levi’s perspective. Georgie is the one initiating all contact with Neal, making sure she can get a laugh out him (at least one), whereas “solid, stolid” Neal is a tough nut to crack, similar to Cath with their difficulty establishing eye contact and needing a barrier between them, such as drawing cartoons (in Cath’s case, reading fanfiction out loud) to distract. And lucky for him, Georgie doesn’t want the easy thing. To paraphrase Attachments, she likes to work a little harder to get the thing she really wants.

“He’s the guy in the Life cereal commercial who hates everything. If Mikey likes you, you know you’re good. If Mikey likes you, it means something.”

  • The concept behind ‘once we notice something, we see it everywhere’ is beyond fascinating to me, so I liked how subtly Rainbow Rowell incorporated that shift between the two:

“How had she missed Neal until junior year? He’d started working at The Spoon as a freshman, same as her. Georgie must have seen him, without really seeing him, dozens of times. Was she that sucked in by Seth? Seth was extra sucky—pushy and loud, always demanding Georgie’s attention. . . .
But once Georgie noticed Neal, she saw him around the office constantly. She’d try not to stare when he walked past her desk on his way to the production room. Sometimes, if she was lucky, he’d look her way and nod.”

Rowell excels at procuring real authentic moments.

“Can we go back and start over?”
“How far back?” Georgie tried to fold her arms, but she was still holding that stupid Zima.
“Back to the wall,” he said. “Back to you walking across the living room toward me. To you saying, ‘I’m surprised to see you here.’”
“Are you saying you want to go back to the living room?”
“No. Just go ahead, say it again now.”
Georgie rolled her eyes, but she said it: “I’m surprised to see you here.”
“You shouldn’t be,” Neal said. He lifted his chin and looked directly in her eyes. For the second time in five minutes. For the second time ever. “I’m here because I knew you’d be here. Because I hoped you would be.”

That moment when people stop playing games (Gemma Collins echo) with one another and just present their real selves… Showing someone you’re keen on them and having it reciprocated is a grand gesture.

I equally loved those tiny, intimate moments sprinkled throughout their married life:

“Stop. You’re blowing my mind.”
“Oh, I’ll blow your mind. Girlie.”
“Are you flirting with me?”
He’d turned to her then, pen cap in mouth, and cocked his head. “Yeah. I think so.”
Georgie looked down at her old sweatshirt. At her threadbare yoga pants. “This is what does it for you?”
Neal smiled most of a smile, and the cap fell out of his mouth. “So far.”
Neal . . .”

As well as featuring really beautiful metaphors with flowers, like: “Pizza girl’s name was Alison, and Heather’s face followed her around the room like a sunflower chasing daylight.”

And: “(Neal’s face was like a flower blooming—you’d need time-lapse photography to really see it in action. But Georgie’d become such a student of his face, she could read most of the twitches.)”

  • Regarding the major plot line of the magic telephone, I could only think of this:

To give some background, this quote led me to it: “Georgie exhaled when she heard Neal’s voice, then resisted the urge to ask him who the president was.”

  • I’ve been holding off, but I really have to end on the most epic cameo to appear in this book, featuring my all-time favorite couple: Cath & Levi. I really thought before starting that it wouldn’t hit me as hard because I’ve already read it before. But it’s been so long and LEVI’S STILL SO GOOD.

“Can we help you find something?” someone said.
Georgie turned. It was the ecstatic young couple. Still hanging on each other, as if neither of them could quite believe the other was finally here.
“Taxi stand?” Georgie said.
“You’re looking for a taxi?” the boy asked. The man. She should probably call him a man. He must be twenty-two, twenty-three; his hair was already thinning.”

My boy is all grown up. bookspoils“Wait a minute.” The boy got out of the truck, then hopped back inside thirty seconds later with his duffel bag. He unzipped it, and clothes spilled out. He started heaping them in the girl’s lap. “Here,” he said, pulling out a thick, gray wool sweater. “Take this.”
“I can’t take your sweater,” Georgie said.
“Take it. You can mail it back to me—my mom sews my address inside everything. Take it, it’s no big deal.”

LEVI GOES OUT OF HIS WAY TO MAKE SURE GEORGIE GETS SAFELY TO HER DESTINATION (on top of the snowy hill).

And Cath caught up with Levi’s good habits along the way because when they notice Georgie’s shoes not having foolproof cover from the Omaha snow, this happens:

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” the girl said. “You can wear my boots.” She reached for the floor. Georgie noticed she was wearing a small engagement ring. “You can have them. I don’t even like them.”
“Absolutely not,” Georgie said. “What if you get stuck in the snow?”
“I’ll be fine,” she said. “He’d carry me across the city before he let me get my feet wet.”

Levi would do it in a heartbeat!! Cue my tears.

I really thought that time would pass and one day I would be ready to move on. But these characters are my home, and I’m never going to stop missing them.

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Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55I’ll close off by sharing this beautiful alternate cover for Landline, which has the best details from the book; the Polaroid!!

Source

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Landlinejust click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!