Lincoln has moved back home with his mother after 10 years of drifting through college programs. He takes a job at a newspaper, The Courier, working in IT. He’s there to help minimized the impact of Y2K on the company’s server, but mostly he’s there to enforce the company’s rules about internet and work email usage; he’s to monitor any emails that violate the company’s policy and send warnings to any offenders. This is how Lincoln “meets” Beth and Jennifer, a reporter who now does the movie reviews and a copy editor, respectively. Beth is in a long-term relationship with a moderately successful musician whom she desperately wants to marry even though he doesn’t seem to share the same desire. Jennifer is married to Mitch and the two are considering having a baby. Lincoln initially reads the emails as a part of his job, but soon comes to feel as if he knows the two of them, and might even be developing feelings for Beth, even though he knows how insane that is. Told mostly through emails, this is the story of friendship, of family, and of moving on from the heartaches and heartbreaks in life.
This was the last of Rowell’s books that I hadn’t read, and I didn’t realize it was her debut novel until I read something online (I always thought it was Eleanor & Park) and I was at least halfway done with the book. This was, quite simply, a very sweet story. Lincoln is shy and reserved and still messed up from having his heart broken by his first girlfriend, Sam, years ago. Sam is a real bitch, by the way. Anyway, we get to know Lincoln the best because we get his work and home perspectives. He’s happy to live with his mom, though he’s not particularly happy with his job. He wants to find something (and someone) that makes him really happy and at 28, he’s starting to feel like it just might not happen for him. That sentiment is echoed in Beth’s emails where she expresses dismay that her younger sister is getting married before her and that she’s not where she thought she’d be in life. These themes are pretty universal and I think it makes the characters very easy to relate to. Rowell excels at writing characters – she doesn’t just assign them traits, she makes them come alive. Even the characters on the periphery, or ones we never meet at all (like Mitch), make big impressions. This is why I was so surprised to find this was her debut novel – she handles these characters like a pro. The story is simple but insanely engaging; I flew through this book because I had to know what happened. I got invested in the lives of these characters and just wanted good things for them! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Rowell’s books. Actually, scratch that. I just recommend this book to anyone, period.
Also, side note: I got this one loan from my library and there’s always a little paper in the back where you can leave your rating and comments for other readers. The first comment on there was too great not to share:
Rating 1-10: 11. Comment: A giant, double-scoop sundae of soul and truth, covered in hot fudge and peanut butter sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles with not an ounce of this-is-too-muchness. There is love like this.
I should have just used that for my review.