I ripped through this novel like a knife through tissue paper. it was so good. Better than good. It was a delight.
The book takes in 1999 and early 2000. Lincoln works for the newspaper in Omaha in the IT department. Most of what he does is monitor the webfence, a program designed to monitor internally for the inappropriate use of email. Everyone at the paper now has email and the higher ups are worried people will abuse it. Mostly what Lincoln does is he checks the folder, sends out warnings, and then does whatever he wants for the rest of his shift.
Beth is a reporter for the newspaper who inappropriately uses her email. Well, she uses it for personal messages and not just for business. Most of the time she emails her friend and coworker Jennifer. Lincoln sees the messages but decides not to say anything. And, then he just keeps reading them and reading them.
When I figured out the premise of the book, that Lincoln basically falls in love with this woman by snooping on her emails I thought, “Oh. That is so gross.” Because it is. But, everything we know about Beth we know from her emails that Lincoln reads. That is the only way she’s in the story. And, she’s easy to like. Beth is smart and she is funny and she really cares about her friend Jennifer. Thankfully, the creepiness of snooping through someone’s email is actually discussed in the book. There are moral compass characters (who play d&d!) There are comic relief characters (Justin, Lincoln’s friend, is fantastic. As is Lincoln’s mother. And, Lincoln’s lunch buddy Delores.).
The subplots about Jennifer’s marriage and complex relationship with having children was wonderful and something that I would like to see more of in literature and media. The decision to have children is really huge and shouldn’t be taken lightly and so to have it discussed at all (and to have a woman’s doubts about having children discussed) was amazing.
And, the subplot about Beth’s partner Chris was infuriating. If someone is “just too much” for you. Break up with them. Don’t try to make them feel bad about it. Ugh. What a jackass.
This book had everything and I’m so happy that it was part of my pop culture homework assignment!