Genre: adult fiction
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself. What would he say . . . ?
Lincoln O’Neill, fresh out of yet another master’s program and living at home with his mother, accepts a job offer as an internet security officer for the newspaper in preparation for Y2K. But what he thought would be an awesome job turns out to be a dull night job of reading people’s flagged emails and sending them warnings. But when Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder’s email chains are sent to him, he can’t help but be captivated by these women, their humor, their lives. Lincoln knows he’s gone too far — become too invested — when he realizes he’s falling in love with Beth.
Attachments touched me in so many ways. Lincoln’s sense of failure — of only knowing how to learn (and thus, the multiple degrees) and having to move back in with his parents — hits very close to home. Every 20-something these days has to face the hard truth and possibility of moving back in with parents for financial concerns, and that sense of “failure at life” is such a sad and depressing burden on the soul. You can feel Lincoln’s confusion, hopelessness, and sadness. But with his sister’s support, and his strange sense of connection to Beth and Jennifer, boosts him into trying new things, meeting new people, and improving his lifestyle. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel!
Similarly, Beth and Jennifer’s concerns are like any young woman’s. Pregnancy scares, boundary lines in relationships, jealousy of others getting married before you, work gossip, self-esteem issues, you name it and these women talk about it. I especially love the fact they give nicknames to their coworkers. You’re invested in their journeys just as much as Lincoln’s, and there’s absolutely nothing thrilling about it except for the fact it’s so real. This is life. And as humans, we want to hear others’ stories, even the mundane ones.
Rowell’s setting — right before and after the Y2K scare (which, looking back on it, cracks me up) — and writing style really make this a unique novel. Lincoln’s chapters follow Lincoln in the third person narrative. Beth and Jennifer’s email chains are exactly that: email chains, with time stamps, subject lines, and <>: and <>: indicators. Soon you develop your own image of them in your mind, a voice for each, and it’s exciting when Beth first sees Lincoln (and thus, a description!), and when Lincoln first sees Jennifer and Beth (more descriptions!). Again — true to life! It was fun flipping back and forth between these narratives because it drives the novel forward. You race through Lincoln’s chapter to see Beth and Jennifer again, and you race through Beth and Jennifer to get back to Lincoln. Clever, Rowell.
A fun book about the various life situations in early adulthood, with a light and hilarious office romance. Cute, adorable, heart-warming, a light at the end of the tunnel.