Beware the bad guy from Tron! He might be reading your emails…
“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . “
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 . . . ?
I loved this book.
It was very reminiscent, at least at first, of Meg Cabot‘s The Boy Next Door series, with whole (very short) chapters of nothing but emails back and forth. In fact, we only see Beth and Jennifer for almost the entire book through their emails back and forth. Eventually Lincoln meets up with each of them in the “real world”, but everything in the book that isn’t one of their emails is told solely from Lincoln’s point of view.
And I absolutely loved Lincoln’s point of view. If you like shy, geeky guys–if you know shy, geeky guys–if you’ve ever felt like talking to the opposite sex is a scary, scary prospect, even if you’ve outgrown that feeling, if you can still at least remember it–then you’ll probably love him too.
Lincoln had a girlfriend–once. He’s still not sure what he did to attract her in the first place, but he loved her and she was going to be “it” for him. They went to high school together. He followed her to college. And she–you guessed it–dumped him their freshman year. Did I mention her followed her to California? From Nebraska? He transferred after that year, and from then on his life pretty much went into a holding pattern.
He went to school. A lot. For multiple degrees.
He moved back in with his mother after finally (maybe) finishing his schooling.
His big “night out” each week involved–wait for it–an ongoing Dungeons and Dragons game. (Did I mention the book takes place 1999-2000, during the Y2K bru-ha-ha?)
He got a job at the local newspaper, answering an ad that said, “Full-time opportunity for Internet security officer. $ 40K + Health, dental.” What it really should have said, he realized after he started, was, “Wanted: someone to read other people’s e-mail. Swing shift.”
Which is how he meets Beth, the movie reviewer at the Courier.
Only he doesn’t actually meet Beth–he reads her emails to and from her best friend, a copy editor at the Courier, Jennifer. He gets caught up in their emails, in their lives, and doesn’t even realize until it’s gone on for far too long that he should have sent them a do not use work email for personal correspondence warning about a hundred or so emails ago.
But by then it’s too late, because Lincoln can’t seem to stop reading their emails. And he’s sure as heck never going to send them one of those warnings, because then they might stop sending them.
Plus, he doesn’t want to be that bad guy from Tron.
(I loved the 1980s-1990s references throughout the book; it certainly didn’t hurt that most of the central characters were exactly my age during that time period. I felt like almost any of them could have been my friends too–except maybe for Justin. Well, maybe even Justin. He’s always a good friend to Lincoln, so that’s definitely in his favor.)
So Lincoln continues reading their emails, he also begins to slowly…well, grow up, really. (To the delight of his much older sister and despair of his mother.) He slowly but surely comes into his own as a single guy, and by the time he finally does meet Beth he’s just the best version of Lincoln that he could possibly be.
(It’s a romance–so you know that somehow, sometime, they’re going to get together, right? So my quoting my absolute favorite part of the book below won’t be a huge spoiler, then? If so, feel free to skip the next part. But I warn you, it’s sooooooo gooooood!)
When Beth questions Lincoln’s assertion that he could have fallen in love with her “before first sight” and asks him what he “saw” in her, he answers:
“Everything,” he said, sitting straighter, keeping hold of her waist. “Everything you wrote about your work, about your boyfriend …The way you comforted Jennifer and made her laugh, through the baby and after. I pictured a girl who could be that kind, and that kind of funny. I pictured a girl who was that alive…”
She looked guarded. Lincoln couldn’t tell from her eyes whether he was pushing her away or winning her over.
“A girl who never got tired of her favorite movies,” he said softly. “Who saved dresses like ticket stubs. Who could get high on the weather…”
“I pictured a girl who made every moment, everything she touched, and everyone around her feel lighter and sweeter. “I pictured you,” he said. “I just didn’t know what you looked like.”
“And then, when I did know what you looked like, you looked like the girl who was all those things. You looked like the girl I loved.”
(There are real guys out there that talk like this, yes? Not purely fictional ones? Sigh…)
OH MY GOD. I LOVED THIS BOOK. (Note to self: must add everything else Rainbow Rowell has ever written to all my wish lists. Right away.)
Rating: 5 stars / A+ for an awesome ending with all the feels.
(Note: I listened to the audio version, which was very well done…except the narrator did not really have a “guy” voice when she was reading male parts. It obviously didn’t detract from my enjoyment one bit, though–it’s better than those narrators who attempt the opposite gender and end up sounding awful, at least. But it did stand out, just a bit.)