My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don't read novels written for adult-type personages and never would have picked this up if not for the fact that Rainbow Rowell worked in a Nebraska newsroom eons ago with my husband; I have been a fan of her writing, if not a regular consumer, for over 15 years.
And if that wasn't enough, the book is actually about that previously mentioned newsroom, with characters based on the people therein, including my husband.
And then add to that the fact that two of my closest friends and I have email relationships (and now chat relationships, because, you know the times ... they are a'changin') much like the two lead characters in this book.
So, on the surface, what's not to like?
(Now I've led you into what you think will ultimately be a bad review, right? Well, except for those five glaring stars above, which kind of give it away)
I loved this book. Maybe I loved it because Rainbow is a friend. Maybe I loved it because the fictionalized version of my dear husband reminded me of what he was like when he had hair (though Rainbow does not mention his hair, so perhaps it is only me who recalls it fondly). Maybe I loved it because it I knew that newsroom and I lived through the ridiculousness of the beginning of the internet age.
But mostly I think I loved it because I loved the characters Rainbow created. I loved the conceit of only getting to see two characters through their correspondence with each other. I loved the amount of good-natured funny in the dialog and description.
And there's a lot of good-natured funny; I usually dog-ear things that make me laugh or think while I'm reading a book. I didn't dog-ear because, well, Rainbow signed it, and then defaced it, replacing the name of the printed character based on my husband with my husband's name, so I figure that our son will be able to take it to the Antiques Roadshow someday. Also, and this is probably the more-so reason, I would have had to dog-ear almost every page.
I'm just going to open up the book at random and give a sampling;
"I'm starting to think you have a problem. With school."
"I've never had a problem with school," he said, knowing how lame that sounded, knowing that refusing to take part in the conversation wasn't the same as avoiding it.
"You know what I mean," she said. She wagged a dirty spoon at him. "A problem. Like those women who get addicted to plastic surgery. They keep going back and going back, trying to look better until there is no more better. Like they can't look better because they don't even look like themselves anymore. And then it's just about looking different, I think. I saw this woman in a magazine who looked like a cat. Like a cat of prey, a big cat. Have you ever seen her? She has a lot of money. I think she might be from Austria."
"No," he said.
"Well, she looks very unhappy."
I can pretty much guarantee that whatever page you turn to, you can find something worthy of quoting out of context for a laugh.
Of course, funny quotes out of context does not a book make. And, honestly, that was my concern when I started reading; that this book would simply be a collection of clever-and-funny, with a story that was only constructed incidentally and slap-dashedly to shore up the clever-and-funny; clever-and-funny for the sake of clever-and-funny.
Imagine my gratification when I found myself caring about the characters. When I found myself rooting for them. When my heart would beat faster because I knew their hearts were beating faster. When, though I knew how it must end, I was still unable to put the book down until it did end.
So what's not to like? Even if you don't know Rainbow or the newsroom in Nebraska, you will love this book, the world she created, the words her characters say and type and the relationships they build. You'll wish it were you. Then you'll email your best friend and tell her you love her.
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