Landline by Rainbow Rowell; published 2014 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Review in a word: Flat
- Is love enough to sustain a marriage?
- How do you choose between the work you love and the family you love?
Opening line: “Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.”
Georgie and her best friend, Seth, have been TV writers for years. They finally get the chance for their own show and it all hinges on the success of a meeting two days after Christmas. The problem is that Georgie and her family are supposed to go to Omaha for Christmas. Her husband, Neal, is finally fed up with Georgie choosing work (and Seth) over her own family. He takes the kids to Omaha, and Georgie is left unsure of whether they’ll ever come back.
She goes to stay with her mom and sister while they’re gone. In her old room, Georgie finds the vintage yellow rotary phone she bought in high school and uses it to call Neal. He answers, but it’s different—Georgie is talking to college-aged Neal. In Neal’s time, he’s in the week before he proposed to Georgie, a week that is eerily similar to the week she’s having now, when Neal left and she thought she’d never see him again. Georgie realizes somehow she has to convince young Neal to come back to her now.
I get the impression that Rowell is better at writing younger characters. Beth and Lincoln (from Attachments) were somewhat likable, but none of her adults are as engaging as her teenagers. Whatever the reason, the scenes that shine in this book are the flashbacks to Georgie and Neal’s college romance.
The present-day Georgie is sloppy, irresponsible, and scatter-brained. The books tries to position Georgie’s dilemma as a choice between her two loves: work and family. But there are many seemingly smaller choices Georgie makes that force those two into greater tension. For example: Georgie has a cellphone, but the battery is dead (this is why she ends up using the old phone). Throughout the entire book, she refuses to get a new battery, causing her to miss several calls and emails from her kids, Neal, and Seth—even when she and her sister end up at the mall in front of the Apple store, Georgie has some kind of revelation which makes it so that she absolutely has to go back to her mom’s house right then just in case Neal calls the magical phone. Another example: Nearly every single day of the week, Georgie sleeps in late—like, till noon. Again, this causes her to not get work done and causes everyone to worry about her. Things like this frustrated me because it seemed like Georgie didn’t even care enough to do simple things that would make her life and the lives of those around her easier.
I was also frustrated by the fact that the reader has to be told what’s going on with the magical phone, and that clarity doesn’t come until over 100 pages into the book. Georgie has a lot of “revelations” that have to be spelled out for the reader. These felt cheesy and forced and only added to my dislike of Georgie.
Like I said before, there are definitely redeeming moments in the book. Rainbow Rowell is especially good at realistic dialogue, and Neal has some great lines. But I’m really hoping that Rainbow’s next book is a return to YA.
Neal didn’t take Georgie’s breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay—that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.
“Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen—because you love each other.” – Neal
Recommend? Well… I really like Rainbow’s other books and I like that I own all of her books, so I’m glad I have it, but I wouldn’t read it again. So no?
You might like instead:
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
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