Published by St. Martin's Press on July 8, 2014
From New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones. Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now. Maybe that was always beside the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . . . Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
Eleanor & Park left such a mark on me that I was nervous to pick up another book by Rainbow Rowell. What if it wasn’t as good? What if it didn’t live up to my expectations. Silly me. I should have known better. Rowell knows how to create characters who have dimension. They have problems, real quirks, and are generally people who really exist in this world.
Landline somehow makes a time-traveling telephone seem like a thing that could happen. Magical yellow telephones certainly exist in real life, right? Oh wait, they don’t? Crap. My point is that it may seem like a far-fetched premise but Rowell executes it beautifully. I never thought a “magic fucking phone” could seem so real. I think it works because it isn’t the focus of the story. We’re in Georgie’s head more than we’re on the phone. The phone is just an accessory to Georgie, helping her figure out if her relationship is worth saving.
The real question that Landline explores is whether or not love is enough. We get so caught up in our own lives that sometimes we forget how to be good daughters or sons or spouses. Sometimes we take that whole unconditional love thing for granted. Rowell reminds us that we have to work for our relationships. We have to make sure that love is enough. Neal says, “We’ll make our own enough.” Enough just doesn’t happen. You have to work to make it happen. You have to put your own desires on the back burner for a hot minute and realize that your life affects other lives too.
You know what I especially love about Georgie? She doesn’t shower every day. She gets so caught up in life that she forgets about important things like personal hygiene. It’s OK, Georgie, I need reminders too. The other thing I love about Georgie is that she’s described as a “squashed hourglass.” It elicits such a perfect description of her body type. I’ve only read two of Rowell’s novels but I’m starting to realize that her female protagonists are probably modeled after her. If you think about it, Eleanor and Georgie are both similarly described. But you know what? I like that. I like that she takes a mold and subtly shifts it in meaningful ways until we get two very different characters who vaguely remind us of someone we know.
I could probably gush some more but I’ll spare you all my obsessive love of Rainbow Rowell. I’ll leave you with this though: Landline is a fantastic grown up novel. It talks about some important grown up issues like love and sacrifice and acceptance. If you’re like me, you’ll devour it in about four hours. If you’re like me, you’ll get on the waiting list for all her other novels at the public library and then look her up on YouTube and watch video clips from talks she does at public libraries. And then you’ll tweet something with her twitter handle attached to the end and she’ll ACTUALLY REPLY TO YOU. And then you’ll die. And then you’ll go write an awesome and slightly creepy obsessive book review letting the world know that she’s your writing hero.
You know what all of this shows about me? That I love writers who create quirky, real characters. I lose myself in their stories. I strive to be that kind of writer myself.
© 2014 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.