While this book was written in 2011, it just showed up on my radar earlier this year. I read Eleanor and Park, and loved it tremendously, and then several agents, editors and authors who I follow started complimenting this book. For me, that usually equates a buy.
The format of this novel is unique. The premise is that Lincoln is hired to filter through emails caught by the filter set up to make sure people are using the company resources appropriately. It takes place in the late 1990's and as such, companies were cautious about the technology and the way their employees use it. Casual conversations were often caught by the filter and Lincoln soon finds himself reading personal conversations between two women, Beth and Jennifer. He knows he should flag them, knows that they aren't using the technology for company purposes, but he gets drawn in to their stories.
Rowell shows all conversations between Beth and Jennifer as the actual email messages.
He feels a connection with these women, due in part to the loneliness he feels in his own life. He lives with his mom, repeatedly gets lectured regarding his patheticness by his sister, and the girl he loved isn't in his life anymore. Reading these emails is the catalyst that starts encouraging him to break out of the depressing funk. But things get tricky when Lincoln starts to fall in love with Beth, based exclusively on emails he has read that she doesn't know he read.
Rainbow Rowell has the ability to make readers fall in love with characters fast. I was completely surprised at how quickly I felt the plight of Jennifer, Beth and Lincoln. They all have qualities that are undesirable, and that, I'm certain, contributes to the reason they feel so real.
So far, that's two for two books by Rowell that I have loved.
*content warning for language - I thought it fit in with the characters, but might be offensive to some readers.
Have you read anything by Rainbow Rowell? Any other books written in a different format than regular prose?