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Attachments    by Rainbow Rowell order for
by Rainbow Rowell
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Many businesses were hesitant about using computers when they first came out. Attachments takes place in such a workplace, a newspaper called The Courier that resisted going online until 1992, when they had to give up their electric typewriters and 'switched to computers because they couldn't order the ribbon anymore.'

Setting up e-mail accounts for employees was another matter, and because management was certain that 'giving employees Internet access was like giving them the option to work if they felt like it, look at porn if they didn't,' it was 1999 before e-mail was added. It was decided that hiring an Internet security officer would keep employees under control.

When Lincoln O'Neill applied for the job 'he had pictured himself building firewalls and protecting the newspaper from dangerous hackers - not sending out memos every time somebody in Accounting forwarded an off-color joke to the person in the next cubicle.' As if the job itself weren't bad enough, Lincoln's office is downstairs, away from everyone else, and he has to work at night.

One of his first duties is to help download a program called WebFence that 'would monitor everything everyone was doing on the Internet and the Intranet. Every e-mail. very Web site. Every word.' He has to read 'every day, hundreds of possibly illicit e-mails that were sent to a secure mailbox' and really doesn't like doing this. Several things that would get red-flagged: a list of inappropriate words, 'large attachments, suspiciously long messages, and suspiciously frequent messages.'

Actually, after he sends out a few warnings, the number of red-flagged e-mail decreases significantly, except for those that two women send each other. Jennifer is a copy editor and her friend Beth a movie reviewer, and they flaunt the new policy shamelessly. Not only do they include words they know are forbidden, but they e-mail frequent, long letters to each other. Lincoln is so entertained by their first letters that he puts off sending a memo to them, and then he gets so interested in what they say to each other, and so bored by the rest of his job, that he never gets around to sending that memo.

One of the women, Beth, is single. She says such funny things and is so considerate of her friend that Lincoln starts reading the e-mail they send to each other, even when it isn't red-flagged. He feels guilty about this, but he's really lonely, off in his own office away from everyone else, and this is the only thing he looks forward to during his night shifts. When Beth notices him walking around the building one night and starts referring to him as Cute Guy, he becomes even more interested, and the plot, as they say, thickens.

I loved this book. The chapters move back and forth between Beth and Jennifer's e-mail and Lincoln's life, both past and present. The characters are delightful, agonizing over their real life problems and coping with them with humor and grace. These three are all really nice people who are caught in situations that are upsetting to them, but the way they resolve their problems keeps our interest. I frequently laughed out loud at some of the shenanigans being written about or portrayed, and with Lincoln, looked forward to the next letters. Attachments is written in a unique way that is really fun to read.

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