Attachments — Rainbow Rowell

4/5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: “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 . . . ?

Beth, Jennifer, and Lincoln all work at the same paper—Beth and Jennifer with the daytime writing staff and Lincoln as the new internet security guy. It’s 1999 and Y2K is looming (remember that? Remember the canned food and the extra batteries and the mass panic and how on January first everyone was doing an international walk of shame when it turned out nothing really ended and we’d been panicking/partaking in crazy debauchery over nothing? It’s been almost thirteen years and I’m still disappointed) and the internet is just starting to really catch on at the office. Lincoln’s job is to monitor staff emails for inappropriate content and to make sure everything doesn’t go to hell on January 1, 2000. Beth and Jennifer’s emails are constantly flagged for inappropriate content, but they’re just so damn delightful that Lincoln gets caught up in their lives—as do we—and instead of reprimanding them, he just keeps reading.

To put this into context for anyone who doesn’t remember the year 2000, Lincoln is essentially doing the pre-Facebook version of Facebook stalking. Except in this scenario, Beth and Jennifer set their profiles to “private” and Lincoln hacked in and read all their correspondence.

This is a very character-driven book and Rainbow Rowell did a fantastic job creating these personalities. I loved Beth and Jennifer—their emails, their humor, their friendship—but for a while I thought Lincoln was just plain creepy. He doesn’t mean to read Beth and Jennifer’s emails, but he does. A lot. And Beth’s and Jennifer’s lives, though only viewed through said emails, are so vivid and action-packed that Lincoln’s failure to launch seems especially depressing. I’m sure this is Rowell’s intention, but when you’re dealing with a main character who is pseudo-stalking someone, juxtaposing two lively friends with a guy who lives in his mom’s house and is satisfied to spend his life in college doesn’t do much to alleviate the creepy. And how on earth can you bounce back from delving into someone’s private life like this? But events lead Lincoln to the realization that living, though sometimes scary, is necessary, and the results are delightful.

This is a wonderful summer-by-the-pool book. I read the majority of it on a lazy Sunday off from work, lying out at the public pool. It’s engrossing and not too heavy. My only grievance is that there isn’t more time with Beth and Jennifer.

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