In case you were wondering, writing about a book that all my favorite book-type friends loved long before I did and that I ALSO loved when I finally got around to reading it is HARD. I’m tempted just to say YES IT IS FANTASTIC, pop in a Jennifer Lawrence GIF, and have an ice cream.
But here’s why you're not looking at J-Law making a saucy face right now: YES, everyone has read and loved this book, but did we all love it for the same reasons? Mostly, probably . . . yes. But the first note I scribbled down when I was reading was about the journalism aspect. Because the characters all work at a newspaper, and I was like I CAN IDENTIFY. And we were best friends from that day forward.
That first noteworthy thing for me was this:
Regardless, TV journalists don’t count; cute is their job. There’s no reason to look pretty in print journalism. Readers don’t care if you’re cute. (p. 77)
To which I exclaimed, “Oh HELLO, truthy statement about print vs. broadcast journalism. THE WAR WAGES ON.”
|And we have HER on our side, so good LUCK to you.|
When I was in journalism school, our classes were in the same building as the broadcast journalism classes, and sometimes we ended up in the hallway at the same time waiting for our classes to open . . . and the contrast was remarkable, let me tell you. Exhausted budding alcoholics with rings under their eyes on the right, freshly spackled smoothie-drinking folks on the left. I’m generalizing, but I'm probably drunk right now so what do I know.
Oh did you want to know what this book is about? WELL. Jennifer is a Features copy editor and Beth is a movie reviewer at The Courier, a small Midwestern paper. It’s 1999, and the paper has just entered the digital age, with Internet access for reporters and internal e-mail. Because Internet equals PORN, this advancement necessitates the presence of a person whose job it is to monitor Internet use and employee e-mails for abuses of the privilege. Enter Lincoln, a 28-year-old complacent sort who lives with his mother. The thing is, Beth and Jennifer misuse the HELL out of the internal e-mail, and their messages keep getting filtered into Lincoln’s folder of suspicious e-mails. So he reads them. And then he keeps reading them. And he can't bring himself to issue them a warning. Because he's starting to like them. And maybe even love one of them.
|Like You've Got Mail...but only one person's got mail.|
The format goes back and forth from Lincoln’s narrative to e-mails between Beth and Jennifer, and in this tidy way, the plot progresses. It’s charming and light but still makes you feel some real-life feels.
I identified so fully with Beth and Jennifer that I sometimes had to remind myself which was which when I was reading their back-and-forths (until Jennifer said she didn’t care about Batman; that was a rocky point in our relationship).
And Lincoln. He’s that quietly spectacular sort of man that we all HOPE we deserve. This was the precise moment when I loved him, talking to a girl at a noisy club:
“Well, you came here to meet somebody, right? To meet a guy?”
“To maybe meet the guy, right?”
She looked down at her drink. “Right.”
“Well, when you think about that guy—who, by the way, we both know isn’t me—when you think about meeting him, do you think about meeting him in a place like this? In a place this ugly? This loud? Do you want him to smell like Jägermeister and cigarettes? Do you want your first dance to be to a song about strippers?” (p. 52)
|Only if SHE'S there.|