Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Landline - Rainbow Rowell

Landline - Rainbow Rowell
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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 besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides 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 home 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? (from Goodreads)

I’ve really been looking forward to reading Landline, since I read and loved Rainbow Rowell’s earlier adult novel Attachments just a couple of months ago. While I enjoyed Rowell’s YA releases Eleanor & Park and Fangirl a whole lot, her writing for adults is pretty magical, so I was expecting good things. And thankfully, there were plenty of good things to be found in Landline!

There’s an excellent combination of characters in Rowell’s latest novel, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I’ll let you in on the three-fold reason I fell for Landline: it’s a story about love, with a long-distance twist and a personal vibe too. 

But Alexa, you might say, many stories released into the wild are about love! This is true, of course, and I can even point you in the direction of some really great ones. BUT the difference lies in how Rowell perceives love and captures the notion of it in her novels. I loved this so much in Eleanor & Park particularly, and Rowell’s magic brings to life a whole other side of love in Landline. Love, especially after many years together, is a completely different thing from first loves or falling in love. Rowell’s approach to it is really well-done!

Also, long distance is a combination of traditional (Georgie in LA, her husband Neal in Omaha) and non-traditional (Georgie in 2013, Neal in the past). This really needs no further explanation, but I’ll point you in the direction of this post so you understand why I appreciated this. It really strikes a chord with me when I read about long-distance relationships, and since I’ve read so few, I can definitively say Landline is a strong example.

I also loved that this story felt so personal. Georgie read a lot like Rainbow in real life (based on the couple of times I’ve met her and chatted), though she’s obviously a completely different character. There was something about this that made it really easy for me to connect to on an emotional level, and that’s no easy feat!

Okay, now on to characters! In terms of characters, Georgie is the main one around which the story orbits. She’s not the most likable person in the world, as she often came across as selfish, unable to prioritize correctly and detached from her family (including Neal). But Georgie is funny, and brave, and very outgoing. She really does love her family, her kids, her husband, but she is also extremely passionate about her job (writing comedy, which is awesome)! 

Landline captures a moment where Georgie is forced to reevaluate what matters most to her. While it’s not easy to read about the bad choices or calls she’s made in her life, it’s also kind of hopeful since the novel shows how someone can change, and for the better.

The other characters in this story make for a wide and varied cast, all connected through Georgie herself. There’s her husband Neal, who’s not perfect but loves Georgie and their kids and works to do the best he can with what life’s given him. There’s her two children, Alice and Noomi, who are just adorable little girls that I made a special place for in my heart. There’s her mother, her stepfather Kendrick, her half-sister Heather, who are very vibrant personalities that add color, laughs and support to Georgie’s life. There’s also her co-worker Scotty, who I wish we’d gotten more of, and her best friend Sean, who happens to be the guy I’m really iffy about since he came off kind of persistently annoying in his determination for their show to take off. All of these characters were great additions to the story, and Rowell sufficiently fleshed them out to make each one memorable in my mind.

Rainbow Rowell’s latest take on love and relationships in Landline really wound up working well for me. Characters I loved (and wouldn’t mind meeting in real life) (except Sean) (or maybe I do want to meet him too) + a compelling story (that made me feel deeply + left me satisfied) = a novel definitely worth reading. Landline is yet another excellent addition to Rowell’s collection of releases, and she’s left me looking forward to what she has coming next.

5 comments:

  1. I am so glad to read that you found Landline a great addition to Rainbow Rowell's other books. I'll meet her this upcoming week at YALC (and at a Waterstones event later on as well) in London (which I am super excited for). I'll be buying landline for sure after reading your review.
    I love the way Rainbow Rowell's books are written, it's just a tad magical :)

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  2. I'd forgotten that this book was coming out soon. Thanks for the reminder. I am popping over to the library homepage and putting it on hold right now!

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  3. Egads. There are 46 hold ahead of me. Will I even get the book by Christmas?

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  4. I need to read one of Rainbow Rowell's books! I can't believe I haven't by now. Great review, Alexa!

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  5. I've been reading a lot of reviews for this book lately in which people are saying that they really liked Sean's character...but I'm with you! I did not like him. I thought he was really arrogant and didn't like how he kept inappropriately inserting himself into Georgie's personal life. Like, I get that they're best friends...but once you're married, certain lines need to be drawn if you're going to be friends with another heterosexual male (assuming you're a woman in a straight heterosexual marriage), and I feel like he crossed that line a few times throughout the book.

    Great review!

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