Can love survive in the information age? It can when a newspaper’s IT guy begins reading the e-mails of the film critic.
Set long ago in 1999, when people still cared about privacy, Beth, a film critic at a Nebraska paper and Jennifer, a copy editor across the room, trade daily e-mails when boredom strikes at work. What they don’t suspect is that Lincoln, working the graveyard shift, reads their highly personal missives as part of his job, monitoring flagged e-mails for inappropriate material. He could stop (they’re neither gambling, browsing porn nor harassing co-workers), but he doesn’t want to—Beth and Jennifer are funny and friendly and have a life—something Lincoln desperately wants for himself. Handsome and addicted to college—he just finished his second master’s degree—Lincoln is also awkward, heartbroken from his cheating girlfriend, happy to count D&D as a social life, and has just moved back in with his counter-culture mother. Somehow, reading Beth and Jennifer’s e-mails make him feel normal. And he gets an eyeful of their normal: Jennifer is obsessed with pregnancy and how to avoid it, even though good guy husband Mitch wants nothing more than to start a family. Beth wishes she was as secure in her relationship with musician Chris, but he’s hardly the type to settle down. As the two trade emails, Lincoln feels increasingly like a cyber-stalker, but then something funny happens: Beth begins confessing a crush on a mystery man at work. Her cute guy eats dinner in the break room with old Doris, helps Jennifer change a flat and sounds an awful lot like Lincoln to Lincoln. He thinks he may be falling in love (even though he’s never seen Beth), but what about Chris? All's well that ends well in this romance that switches from the women’s e-mails to Lincoln’s narrative of his slow rise from sad sack to confident boyfriend material.
A certain light charm pervades the novel—a Spring Break kind of book.