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:

Motherhood and Emotional Intimacy in Tully 2018 | Film Review (Spoilers)

I’m not too big on watching movies these days, but Tully jumped out at me with its premise of realness, when a mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn. Showcasing daily specifics of early motherhood, like the feeling of a newborn curling up in your hands, or trying to cut their tiny nails while keeping them from fidgeting. Any of these scenes below, really, caught my eye:

There are so many key memories we lose with time, which, incidentally, is my theory for why people keep adding more children to their growing family: the pain disappears and all that’s left is remembering how worth it was to get to where you are now. The good overshadows the not-so-pleasant moments, in most cases.

(Spoilers from here.)

I cherish dialogue-driven stories, so Tully’s introduction as the night nanny made for a turning point for me in the film. What ensues is the epitome of acceptance between two people.

“You two were so separate, but then so connected. How did you develop that? Because that magic just wasn’t in the script.” x

Marlo and Tully listen to each other with open hearts and warm eyes. They never dismiss what the other one wants to spill out (quite literally in one scene). It’s a tender acceptance that doesn’t rely on any outside factor. A scene that remain most stark in my mind is when Tully, instead of mocking or judging Marlo’s peculiar TV show preferences, takes this opportunity to learn her on a deeper level by asking sincere questions. Their deep discussions – nothing off limits – is all that Marlo and her husband should’ve been practicing to repair the gaping wound in their relationship.

That is until the reveal comes that, all along, Marlo was talking to her younger self… And something inside of me can’t easily let all that character-build go within the last 1/3 of the film.

For a movie that succeeds at openly diving into the vast hidden world of parenthood, it veered a sharp left at the end by delivering your typical Hollywood catch; a movie can never just be a movie without some shock deliverance. It’s even funnier that Tully has a scene making fun of this exact phenomena in movies, yet settles for a similar blow…

MARLO
Why have a baby if you’re not willing to put in the time? Sleep deprivation is part of the deal. Besides, I don’t want some stranger in my house bonding with my newborn at night. That’s like a Lifetime movie where the nanny tries to kill the mom and the mom wins but still walks with a cane for the rest of her life.

Again, the twist is a wonderful concept to explore, regarding self-care, but this is not what Tully build from the start. We were invested in the growing and accepting companionship between Marlo and Tully that entails staying up late talking about anything and everything into the night, like the “Ship of Theseus” paradox or daily anxieties, while caring for the newborn .

I had to mull over the plot twist multiple days (and vent to my mom) to come to the final conclusion that it didn’t work in my favor. The message it reverberates of “I was just here to bridge a gap” is a fascinating one to develop, but I feel like the execution of it failed in this film, when taking into consideration the major working point it has of featuring such an impacting and disarming bond between Marlo and Tully that’s so rare to experience these days… There’s just too much there to dismiss it with one scene.

This engulfs so much of them. Which springs to mind another quietly stirring scenario, right before the hit:

MARLO
I’m so tired.
TULLY
I know. But I need you to stay with me. Let’s have a conversation.
MARLO
All we do is converse. We’re like the people in a Spanish textbook. Maria and Julio, they never shut up.
(then)
What am I going to do without you?

♫When you’re screaming, but they only hear you whisper
I’ll be loud for you
I’ll be loud for you♫

Tully hears Marlo loud and clear when no one else does, which makes sense for the plot twist: you know yourself better than anyone else. So I get the direction this movie was striving towards, but I still feel like some preparation and clues sprinkled throughout would’ve gone a long way.

In the end, the film succeeds at sharing many insights with the viewers, so I can’t let one bad part shatter all the good it build prior. In a way, the twist opened an exciting gateway of conversations to circle around the idea of self-acceptance. The good overshadows the not-so-pleasant moments, as my aforementioned theory states.

I’ll end my review favorably with picturesque scenes:

Be sure to check out the trailer, which perfectly captures the themes established in the movie, here:

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