Last year The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion had us in stitches while cheering the hapless Don on to romantic happiness. Although it’s never stated outright in the book, Don clearly had issues. Personal issues, social issues, all kinds of issues in relating to people and the world in general, and yet his one desire was to create a connection with another human being. Loneliness forced him out of his self-imposed, solitary prison. (Compare the warmth of this character to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.)
Reading Simsion’s book led me to The Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Set in the 1990’s, this story is about another lonely soul. Lincoln has been paralyzed by the crushing break-up with the love of his life. He doesn’t have any interest in developing personal relationships with anyone aside from his mother and his D&D friends. He believes himself to be satisfied being a loner.
Lincoln happens to be a highly intelligent person with more than one college degree to his credit who chooses to work evenings as an internet security officer at a local newspaper. In the beginning he’s happy with the job, he’s being paid and can avoid interacting with people. What does the job actually entail? Lincoln is paid to read emails and report anyone who is violating company policies. (Compare the neediness and cute nerdiness of this character to Leonard from The Big Bang Theory.)
This leads him to the emails of Beth and Jennifer, who should be flagged and possibly fired. However, he becomes so engaged in the content of their gossipy, girl-pal emails, he can’t bring himself to do it. Eventually, clues in the emails lead Lincoln to put overcome the agony of his long-ago break-up and start working on a new romantic possibility-Beth.
Is Lincoln the first creepy Internet stalker to emerge during the 90’s? Will Beth call Human Resources with a complaint? Is there a restraining order in Lincoln’s future? Is he actually a Dexter-type character toying with an unsuspecting victim? Filled with light, funny, irresistible characters, these books herald the dawn of a new era in books: cute nerd hero. (Think about it, Dr. Who definitely fits the bill.)
And if you like The Attachments, check out Fangirl, a great teen read also by Rainbow Rowell but with a refreshingly adorable nerdy female lead.