Tag Archives: emily

Attachments 31-35: maybe I’m ripening

We finally get to hear more about Lincoln and Sam’s relationship, specifically their breakup. Sam is the worst. Of course their relationship ends because she cheats on Lincoln. And Lincoln, hanging out in the back of the theater while your girlfriend rehearses is such soon-to-be-dumped boyfriend behavior. Lincoln’s goodbye note to Sam is so sweet. It’s bad enough that she’s cheating on him, but then he has to catch her in action. Sam and Marlon won’t even let Lincoln make a quick escape. Poor crying Lincoln.

Lincoln doesn’t tell people about his breakup with Sam. He tried to tell Justin about it once, but Justin is not the confidant type. This event radically altered his life and to discuss it with other people would belittle it. Talking about breakup with someone would give the other person an opportunity to tell his or her own breakup stories, and make Lincoln’s something common and mundane. Lincoln doesn’t want to share his experience; he wants to wallow.

Other Things

  • I should have a section devoted to Midwestern things that make me happy in Rainbow’s books. This week it’s Village Inn! And that people who have never lived here always think it’s quaint and funny.
  • I love imagining Lincoln’s mom confront Sam’s mom at the grocery store.
  • A personal shower—yikes.
  • Jennifer is pregnant!!
  • I like seeing Lincoln’s family in action. The entire chapter cracks me up.

A Recommendation

No book makes having a rocker boyfriend more appealing to me than This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. Remy is not interested in romance–her mother’s five marriages make it hard to see the appeal. Remy dates, but she doesn’t get attached. She definitely doesn’t date musicians, until Dexter. To be clear, Dexter is nothing like Chris—he’s warm, affable, and goofy.

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Attachments 16-20: Roo-ah-roo-ahhh

Obviously Lincoln’s resolve to stop reading Jennifer and Beth’s email doesn’t last long. And really, who could resist Beth and Jennifer’s witty repartee? Lincoln gets engrossed and finds himself thinking about what they both look like, especially what Beth looks like. While he’s not at ease with what he’s doing, Lincoln thinks “maybe it isn’t exactly all bad” (72). That’s not a resounding endorsement, but reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails is the only thing that keeps Lincoln sane at his job, so he has to justify it some way.

In this section, Beth and Jennifer’s conversations are filled with workplace antics! I find the line “whenever Tony works, I go home reeking of the sea” (74) to be wildly hilarious. Oh food odors. There is someone at my work who routinely pops popcorn, and I am jealous every time. And I love stories of passive-aggressive workplace tactics, like stealing someone’s nail clippers. But best of all, Beth sounds the Cute Guy Alarm. Of course everyone’s first response is that it can’t be true. As Beth says “this place can’t sustain cuteness” (77). There are so many great descriptions of Beth’s mysterious cute guy—“monumental cuteness” (77), “action-hero facial features” (77), and “a passenger pigeon with a sweet ass” (78) are all gems.

Now that Lincoln isn’t trying to convince himself that he’ll stop reading their emails, he takes it to the next level and checks out Beth’s desk. She has a Rushmore poster! Lincoln wants to find a picture of Beth, but all he finds are pictures of Chris and her family. Chris looks like the prototypical rock star with a “get-out-of-free card in his back pocket” (81). And then Lincoln feels awful about what he’s doing and about himself in general. It’s the saddest use of lumbered ever.

Other Things

  • Nothing is funnier than Y2K preparations.
  • Word Beth. Brian Williams is a fox.
  • ‘Smov the Ninekiller. Stop. It’s too perfect.

A Recommendation

I read the best book recently—The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. It’s magical realism, but there’s so much unrequited love and intense longing that it feels like a good pairing for Attachments. Though Ava is the titular character, the story is just as much about her mother Viviane, and her grandmother Emilienne.

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Attachments 1-5: Lincoln didn’t crochet

It’s time for Attachments! It’s 1999 and having an email address is still a novelty. We’ve got Jennifer Scribner-Snyder and Beth Fremont, best friends who work at the same newspaper and exchange frequent emails. And then there’s Lincoln, the hapless IT guy who has to monitor everyone’s email.

I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls lately and Beth and Jennifer’s relationship reminds me a lot of Lorelei and Sookie. I see it in the way they banter with each other, which makes sense because Rainbow Rowell loves to write dialogue. I love the way Jennifer talks about thinking she’s pregnant, particularly “instead of cramps, I feel this strangeness in my womb region. Almost a presence.” (2) And the way the Beth habitually indulges the Jennifer’s pregnancy hysteria, but only to a point. And of course Jennifer is willing to set aside her own concerns when Beth’s younger sister gets engaged and needs to talk about Chris, the noncommittal live-in boyfriend. Just to be clear, I think 2 a.m. stomach poems sound like the worst. I don’t want anyone writing on my stomach and I certainly don’t want anyone waking me up at 2 a.m. to share said poem.

Poor Lincoln, he still lives with his mom, the only girlfriend he talks about is an ex, and he hates his job. His mom seems pretty great—I mean, she subscribed to Ms.—but living with your mom when you have a full time job is never the dream. Especially when your fulltime job makes you miserable. Part of me is very intrigued by the prospect of reading everyone’s email—I’m very nosy. But I don’t think I could handle the pressure, specifically everyone knowing that I was monitoring the emails. And if the nature of Lincoln’s job isn’t isolating enough, he works off hours, in an empty part of the building. I have also succumbed to the lure of a non-dream fulltime job with benefits, but at least I work regular hours and have wonderful coworkers.

Other Things

  • I think I would hate the late night component of Lincoln’s job the most. When Anna and I worked late night shifts at the library, I did nothing but complain. And when I worked in restaurants and had to close, I would always get very punchy.
  • I’m so excited to read more about Kiley and Brian’s wedding.

A Recommendation

If you love the chapters with Beth and Jennifer’s emails, you should check out Meg Cabot’s intertwined, post-modern epistolary novels—Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy’s Got One. The characters in these books also work at a newspaper. The books are funny, light, and romantic. My favorite is Every Boy’s Got One, because it involves eloping to Italy .

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Fangirl 34-36: I choose you over everyone

Empowered Cath is the best. Once, Cath would have allowed Nick to steamroll right over her, but not anymore. Cath doesn’t need to scream at Nick or accuse him of taking advantage of her. Nick blames Cath for the fact that he lost his teaching assistantship, but he did it all on his own. Cath being unruffled and gracious throughout their conversation just makes it harder for Nick to keep deluding himself. Cath also doesn’t need anyone to fight her battle, but it’s still nice to have backup/moral support. Rowell does such a great job with Wren, Reagan, and Levi’s reactions to the confrontation—Reagan plots like Snidely Whiplash, Wren oozes contempt (403), and Levi kills him with kindness.

Even though Wren is back in Cath’s life, she’s mostly kept Wren and Levi apart. Levi assumes that this separation has something to do with him—either Wren doesn’t like him or Cath is embarrassed of Levi’s humble upbringing and academic difficulties. Cath is of course flabbergasted by Levi’s theories. The real reason she doesn’t hang out with Wren and Levi at the same time is because she’s afraid it’s only a matter of time before Levi finds out that Wren is the prettier, better twin. Which is just as ludicrous as what Levi thinks. And once they realize they’re both being ridiculous they’re much too distracted to make omelets.

Wren understands Cath’s need to finish her version before Gemma T. Leslie, but Levi questions Cath’s motivations. School doesn’t come easy for Levi, and he doesn’t understand how Cath could waste her second chance. He asks Cath “did Gemma Leslie challenge you to a race?” (420), which underlines the futility of Cath’s determination to finish Carry On Simon before the last Simon Snow book comes out. It hurts, but Cath needed to hear it. She loves Simon and Baz, but they’ll wait; the end of the semester won’t.

Other Things

  • I love how Reagan deals with Nick—“Is this yours?” (402). But really Wren, is it necessary to comment on his old world looks? Play it cool.
  • Of course Reagan wants to live with Cath again! And Cath handles the awkwardness of Wren asking to be roommates so well. Living in the same dorm is a nice compromise. So many more opportunities for Reagan to be freaked out by the twin thing.

A Recommendation

I’m so excited because I just started Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the last book in a trilogy by Laini Taylor. Daughter of Smoke and Bone introduces Karou, a blue-haired human girl, who grew up in a demon’s shop in between worlds. Now she attends art school in Prague, but Brimstone, her chimera foster father, sometimes asks her to fetch teeth from across the globe from people who are unable or unwilling to come to the shop themselves. When Karou is suddenly cutoff from the only family she has ever known, she begins to uncover the truth of the centuries long war between the chimera and seraphim.

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Fangirl 25-27: No point in being tricky about it now

Cath and Reagan have to negotiate the weirdness of Cath dating Reagan’s best friend and high school boyfriend. Reagan, of course, does not waste any time before laying down the ground rules. The first three rules are basically designed to keep Reagan from hearing or seeing anything to do with Cath and Levi’s relationship. But the fourth rule, “Levi is my friend, and you can’t be jealous of that” (288) is about protecting Cath and preserving their friendship. Since otherwise Reagan might be tempted to remind everyone that Levi loved her first. Cath isn’t sure the rules will even be necessary, but Reagan has a “good/bad feeling” (289).

But what a great first date! A nighttime tour of Levi’s favorite parts of the East Campus, how romantic—even if it is in February. And after the date they keep hanging out. Everyday. Cath wants to spend alone time with Levi, but she’s not ready to spend time at his house. It’s safer when she knows Reagan could come back, or if they’re in public at the Union. But Levi has a room with a beautiful antique couch for entertaining. Cath feels “loose and immoral” (302) just thinking about his hair, and the eyebrows! But Cath can’t quite get over how much more experience Levi has. And Levi just wants to spend time with her—even if it means carrying her laundry and driving her home to Omaha in a blizzard.

Part of what I love about Fangirl is how familiar the setting feels to me. I’ve read other books set in the Midwest, but you can tell that Rainbow Rowell actually lives here. Levi and I could have come from the same hometown—though, alas, there was no Levi at my high school. Of course he was in 4H, just like any good farm boy. And you definitely need a truck (or need to know someone with a truck) for all of your hauling emergencies! There was a cow pasture across the street from my house. My college also had a campus that was mostly for ag majors (and fashion, strangely enough)—maybe it’s just a Midwestern state school thing. Anyway, I love the Midwest and it’s great to read a book that does it justice.

Other Things

  • Reagan, what an excellent Twilight reference!
  • Oh Cath, math contests, really?
  • Gaudy English majors? What does that mean?
  • I love Levi’s reaction to Cath and Wren’s room. He’s just overwhelmed by the preciousness.

A Recommendation

If you love Cath’s slash fiction, you should try Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. It’s a melodrama of manners! Richard St. Vier, a talented swordsman for hire, lives in Riverside with Alec, a moody university student. There’s romance, intrigue, swashbuckling, and fancy parties.

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Fangirl 16-18: Like a dangerous French fur trapper

Reading until your voice is gone and then kissing tends to make a person tired, so it’s not wonder that Levi and Cath don’t wake up until Reagan comes home the next morning, Levi’s late for work, so he runs out, leaving Reagan and Cath alone for a very awkward confrontation. Cath starts crying immediately and Reagan’s voice sounds “serrated” (181). How did Cath think that Levi was still Reagan’s boyfriend for so long? Cath is too good at shrinking and avoiding anything that could cause conflict; she needs a friend like Reagan who can just cut through the bullshit. Cath saw Levi as off limits until she was too close and too tired to resist, so she hasn’t put any thought into why it could work, just why it can’t.

As Christine mentioned in her post, Cath has no idea about what she would do at Levi’s party. But after kissing Levi, she’s willing to give it a try. Of course Wren took all the good going out clothes, but Cath realizes that she can be the pretty twin too. I love how Rainbow Rowell does a makeover scene. Cath looks nicer, but it’s no Laney Boggs transformation. And then she and Reagan go to Levi’s party. Cath tries to play it cool, but all she wants to do is find Levi. AND SHE FINDS HIM KISSING ANOTHER GIRL! NOOOOOOOOOOO! She and Reagan make a hasty retreat and Reagan lets her pretend like it never happened.

Nick is THE WORST. Levi kisses another girl, and Nick is still the worst. I want to crawl inside the book and strangle him. Let me list the ways Nick is an inveterate ass—his pretentious love of only writing by hand, his obliviousness, his manic pixie dream girl fantasy story, his refusal to admit that he’s taking advantage of Cath. After her fanfiction disaster with Professor Piper, Nick’s betrayal makes even less disposed to write her final story.

Other Things

  • “Levi’s lazy hips and loose shoulders” (187)—swoon.
  • I love that the spells in Simon Snow are common phrases.
  • I hate that Levi misspelling pumpkin in a text makes Cath wince (195). People make crazy errors in texts all the time. It’s part of the charm.
  • Cath has real live fans!!!

A Recommendation

Like Anna’s last recommendation, I’m suggesting a retelling of a classic tale. Two companion novels actually, because I love them both so much I can’t choose. Diana Peterfreund’s post-apocalyptic novels For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across the Star-Swept Sea retell Persuasion and The Scarlet Pimpernel, respectively.

No story deals with romantic misunderstandings and disappointed hopes like Persuasion. Elliot North wanted to run away with Kai, but she chose to stay and run her family’s estates. Now Kai has returned as the intrepid Captain Malakai Wentforth and Elliot is struggling to survive. The letter is just as wonderful in this version.

Persis Blake pretends to be a vapid lady-in-waiting who only cares about extravagant gowns and having fun, but really she’s The Wild Poppy, Albion’s greatest spy. Justen Helo is a brilliant scientist, but he’s afraid his most recent discovery will cause more harm than good if his uncle, the de facto ruler of Galatea, is allowed to use it.

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Fangirl 7-9: You’re Just the Clark Kent

The most memorable thing about Abel is how terrible he is at breaking up with Cath. Stop talking about your new girlfriend Abel! No one cares what she got on the ACT.  And in the moment, the only defense Cath has for their relationship is that his grandma always makes tres leches cake for her birthday. Cath doesn’t cry about it until she’s with Wren, admitting that part of Abel’s appeal was that their relationship wouldn’t be like her parents’ and “if Abel ever got tired of [her, she’d] survive it,” (78). Cath, you’re breaking my heart.

I really like this scene between Cath and Wren. Wren is so sweet when she’s comforting Cath. It’s also interesting to see her interact with Levi and Reagan—in case you didn’t know by now, Wren is the friendly twin. But it bugs me that consoling Cath about her breakup is only a pit stop before Wren goes out. Sure, Cath and Abel’s relationship barely counted at this point, but it was real to Cath up until the very end.

With Abel officially out of the way, Cath can’t help but notice all of the boys around her—and Wren is more than happy to discuss how Cath could move on. But Cath isn’t “interested in lips out of context” (85), she’s too busy thinking about Nick. Of course Courtney (Ugh, Courtney) has the brilliant idea that they should drop by the library to meet Nick, which Cath quickly vetoes. I’m just trying to picture Wren and Courtney showing up at the library to check out Nick.  I imagine that they would pregame beforehand, attempt to hide in the stacks, and then giggle so loudly that Cath would have to make strained introductions. Nick would be making some nonchalant expression that he probably practices in the mirror.

Other Things

  • “Wren drunked at her” (74).  That’s perfect.
  • I don’t understand why Cath’s full name had to be Cather. Cath Wren, still sounds like Catherine. Cather just makes me think of catheter.
  • I love it when Levi smiles and Cath tells him “oh, put that away” (79), like he can turn the charm off. 
  • Agatha sounds awful and boring. I’d ship Simon and Baz too.
  • Why yes, I did listen to Call Your Girlfriend while working on this post.
  • I hate gravy and canned ravioli, so Gravioli sounds like a nightmare to me.
  • The Mom Bomb, yikes.

A Recommendation

Since Cath is obsessed with a fantasy series, I’m only going to recommend speculative fiction for this book. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan is the first book in one of my absolute favorite trilogies. Nick, the quintessential mysterious loner dude, narrates the first book*. Nick, his brother Alan, and their unstable mother have been on the run from magicians for Nick’s entire life. Alan is a lot like Levi—affable and charming—but he has a limp from a wound he received during the escape that killed their father. Mae and Jamie come to the brothers for help after a strange symbol shows up on Jamie’s arm—Jamie has been marked by a demon and possession imminent. There’s romance, betrayal, a goblin market, awesome fight scenes, and lots of excellent snark.

*All three books are narrated by a different character, each one of them an interrogation of a stereotype in Y.A. lit. Mae, the pink-haired, manic-pixie-dream girl, narrates the second book, and Sin, the sexy biracial girl, narrates the third.

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That Teenage Feeling: An Eleanor & Park Recap

I really love all of Rainbow Rowell’s books, but Eleanor & Park leaves me feeling so grateful. We’ve talked about a lot of the reasons why I adore this book on the blog already, but I can never talk about it enough. Eleanor & Park shows that anyone—an overweight teenage girl, a boy who doesn’t conform to prescribed gender roles, someone with a tense and dangerous home life, a Korean kid in an otherwise white community—has a story deserves to be told.

Their separation is devastating, but it still feels like the best possible outcome. As much as I want Eleanor and Park to be together and happy and in love forever and ever, it’s more important for Eleanor to feel safe—even if only way for that to happen is to put a state between her and Richie. And as much as I love young adult novels with romance, I also want to see high school romances that don’t last. When I saw Rainbow Rowell speak in St. Paul this fall, she commented on the lack of a traditional, romantic happy ending for Eleanor and Park, saying something along the lines of that at 17 there should be no ending, period. And I love that so much, because by the time I’ve read a whole book about any characters, but Eleanor and Park especially, I don’t want them to have peaked in high school.

I’m also obsessed with the cover of the American edition. I definitely judge books by their cover, and this cover made me love this book before I actually read it. I love the buttery yellow cover, and Eleanor’s squiggly hair, and that the headphones make the ampersand. It’s perfect.

Also, I kept thinking of this Neko Case song as I wrote the post. So listen and enjoy. Tomorrow, Anna moves on to Fangirl!

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Eleanor & Park 46-50: Radioactive

How quickly things go from intensely wonderful to horrifyingly bad. There are a couple really short chapters in this section, but they still pack an intense punch. Chapter 47 is such a brilliant use of blank space. Eleanor is too pragmatic to waste time coming up with desperate, far-fetched scenarios—she just gets out. And her description of Richie and the way he regards her in Chapter 49 is absolutely chilling. I can’t stop rereading it—it’s just too horrifying. “Like he’ll get around to me” (288) is probably the line that gets to me the most. There’s so much understood privilege packed into that sentence. Richie views Eleanor as his property and assumes that she’ll be there whenever he decides it’s time—because it’s his right and no on will stop him.

It’s almost jarring to see Tina and Steve act like actual, decent people in this section. Before they were Eleanor’s tormentors, but now they’re all co-conspirators. It’s still pretty clear that Eleanor and Tina would never be BFFs, but outside of school with Richie and stepdads in general as a common enemy, Tina shows that she’s capable of kindness. Poor Park is still reveling in the glory of their date. He has no idea that everything is about to come crashing down. But because he’s Park, he rises to the challenge.

Other Things

  • I like how Park’s first reaction to seeing Eleanor with Tina and Steve is that they must be holding Eleanor hostage.
  • “She looked like a vision there, a mermaid.” (284) Best compliment ever?
  • I have a line in my notes that just says “Park—swoon.” It’s always true.
  • The only thing she wants from her house is Park’s picture.

A Recommendation

If you’re not too disturbed after reading this section of Eleanor & Park, try This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Like Eleanor, Sloane just wants to escape her home life. Her older sister ran away six months ago, leaving Sloane alone with her abusive father. She decides that suicide is her only way out, but on the day she plans to take her own life the zombie apocalypse hits. Sloane finds herself reluctantly surviving with a group of five other teens as they barricade themselves in the high school. This book is less of a story about zombies and more about trauma and how people manage to keep going when it seems like there’s no hope. Like all of Courtney Summers’s novels, it’s brutal in the best way.

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Eleanor & Park 31-35: You Look Like a Different Person

There are so many things going on in these chapters! The aftermath of Eleanor and Park’s first fight. Christmas. Park’s mom finally warming up to Eleanor. The first time Park wears eyeliner. Tongue-kissing on the bus!

Their fight could not have come at a worse time. With Christmas vacation, Eleanor can cut herself off completely. Park tries to reach out, but her siblings are no help. The whole Christmas section makes me want to cry—Ben and Maisie fighting over the fruit box, Eleanor feeling “cold with relief” (185) when she thinks Richie won’t give her a gift, and her mother’s insistence that everyone is having a good day. But Park’s mother’s reaction to seeing Eleanor and her family at the grocery store is what really gets me. She says, “Nobody gets enough…nobody gets what they need. When you always hungry, you get hungry in your head” (189) and I’m sobbing.

I spent a lot of time thinking about Park’s dad in chapter 35. Like Anna mentioned in a previous post, I’m not sure how I feel about him. He’s so good to Eleanor. Even though it’s awkward, he makes a point to tell Eleanor that she will always be invited to dinner. When he brings up Richie, he’s forthright about knowing what Richie’s like, but still delicate enough to not spook Eleanor. But then he absolutely loses it when he sees that Park is wearing eyeliner. It seems to come from love and wanting to protect Park, but his rigid ideals of masculinity aren’t doing Park any good.

Other Things

  • Nothing makes me panic like the thought of running out of reading material.
  • “I know, but like Little Richard? ‘Tutti Frutti?’”
  • Minnesota Uncle!
  • Who has pumpkin pie for Christmas? Is that a thing?
  • For me, one thing definitely in Park’s dad’s favor is his resemblance to Magnum P.I. Because I love Tom Selleck and that show. Every time Eleanor mentions the likeness, I hear the theme song in my head.

A Recommendation

Like Eleanor & Park, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley is narrated from dual perspectives. Ed and Lucy went on a date once, but it was bad—like Lucy broke Ed’s nose bad. Somehow, the night after the last day of high school, Ed, Lucy, and their friends go searching for Shadow, the elusive graffiti artist that Lucy’s obsessed with. Lucy is convinced that she and Shadow are kindred spirits, but what will happen when she finds out that Shadow is actually Ed? This book is electric with love and art and adventure.

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