If you found someone’s cell phone, still in working order with all the texts and emails right there for the reading, what would you do? Would you keep it? Would you scroll through the messages?
Poppy Wyatt, the main character in Sophie Kinsella’s new novel I’ve Got Your Number(The Dial Press, 2012), has just had her phone stolen. And she needs a phone; she’s just lost her heirloom engagement ring during a hotel fire drill and had given her cell phone’s number to everyone and anyone should they find the ring. She needs a number where people can reach her and she needs a number now. When she finds a cellphone in the hotel’s garbage can, good fortune is smiling on her.
That good fortune however leads to complications, of course. The phone after all does have an owner. And the owner, Sam Roxton, wants it back. But Poppy manages to convince him to let her keep it for a few days, just until her ring is found, and promises to forward all emails and correspondence to him as soon as they come in.
Now, wouldn’t you be just a little curious about those emails?
“Once you start reading other people’s emails, you can’t stop. It’s been quite addictive, scrolling down the endless strings of back and forth emails and working out stories. Always backwards. Like rewinding little spools of life.”
Through the phone, a kinship develops between Poppy and Sam. But not without its ups and downs. For starters, Poppy can’t stop thinking about what she’s read (never mind strop reading). She’s a nice person (she signs her emails with J’s and x’s and o’s, after all) and she hates seeing how Sam never emails anyone back. So she starts “fixing” things.
You may know where this is going, but just like Poppy and the emails, you won’t be able to stop reading. Kinsella creates tension on each page with such a deft hand you can’t help but keep turning. Ex-girlfriends, fiancés, wedding plans, corporate espionage, murderous plots, dental designs… what else can go wrong? And what will become of Poppy and Sam once she returns the phone?
I’ve Got Your Number is a clever story, wonderfully sending up society’s dependent – perhaps toxic — relationship with cell phones:
“My phone is my people. It’s my friends. It’s my family. It’s my work. It’s my world. It’s everything. I feel like someone’s wrenched life support away from me.”
What would you do without your phone? While you ponder the answer, you may want to start backing up the data. You know, just in case.
First published March 1, 2012, on WorkLivePlayCafe.com.