July 4, 2014

Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page Count: 308
Source: ARC from BEA 
(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest
review. No favors were exchanged, my opinions are my own.)

First Reaction: MORE PERFECTION FROM THE MOST PERFECT AUTHOR EVER. *rolls around on the floor, cries tears of joy*
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?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


When Georgie finds out some big TV guy wants to pick up the show she's been working on with her writing partner, Seth, for years, she's thrilled. But then she finds out she'll have to skip going to Omaha to visit her husband's family for Christmas so she and Seth can finish writing the first few episodes. Georgie's not excited to tell her husband this (as he's always felt like Georgie's put her career - and Seth - first) but she never thought he would take the girls and go to Omaha without her.

Georgie knows her marriage is in trouble, so she takes to calling Neal incessantly. The problem? He won't pick up his cell phone. So she plugs in her old rotary phone and calls Neal's home phone number. When he picks up, Georgie's thrilled - until she realizes she hasn't reached present-day Neal but past, 15 years earlier, Neal (a Neal who past, 15 years earlier Georgie always thought broke up with her until he showed up at her door to propose). Now Georgie has to decide if her marriage is something she can save or if she should just let Neal off the hook 15 years earlier so he can have the life he should have had if he wasn't taking care of everything while Georgie was busy making a name for herself as a writer in Hollywood.

The plot of this story (as just described) isn't even something I would think of, even in passing or as a daydream. Perhaps I've thought about what it would be like if I could go back and do it again or if I could somehow leave some advice for past me, but I've never wondered what it would be like to talk to the past version of someone else who holds such an important role in my life. And even if I had, I can't really think anything that would change the way they behave. But the way Rainbow Rowell weaves together this story... well, it makes me believe that anything is possible. It makes me believe that the affect people who truly love each other have on one another can be so great that it can make a person turn left instead of right, even if everyone always thought right made the most sense in the world.

So needless to say I'm a big fan of the plot, but I'm also a big fan of Georgie and Neal. Both together and apart, really. They just feel so real. Their emotions, their problems, their needs and wants... they could be my neighbors, or my friends, or even relatives my parents cluck at over dinner. I feel like I could pick up my landline and give Georgie a call and she'd pick up (either 15 years in the past, or now - in fictionland, of course). Character development is honestly just something Rainbow Rowell kills. I've never once felt like her characters weren't the realest people in realtown. It's something I look forward to with every book.

I also love the family elements in the book. Georgie comes from a pieced together, bizarre as anything family that's totally present in the book (especially because Georgie takes up residence in her old bedroom for most of the novel). And then there's Georgie's family that she's made with Neal, which is similarly pieced together. Not because there've been a lot of divorces and children from different parents, but because of the natural divide between Georgie and Neal. Yes, they love each other, but there are these sharp, uneven edges that exist in the Georgie and Neal puzzle that make every character in this book  (and the reader) ask: Is love enough? And I guess you'll have to read and find out if it is.

Oh. BY. THE. WAY. There's an Easter Egg in Landline. Characters from a previous Rainbow Rowell book pop up (namelessly). You'll have to watch VERY closely to spot them, but I swear you'll be shrieking with joy when you do. (Okay, I swear I was shrieking with joy when I did. We'll see what you guys think.)

The long and short of it?

Plot: Sheer brilliance.
Character Development: Perfection, as always.
Prose: Deliciously readable. I savored every word.
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you like your contemporary with a dash of something different/weird/quirky, pick up Landline ASAP - even if you don't love adult fiction (because I usually don't but this book is the jam).

Have you fallen in love with Georgie and Neal yet? Do you wish you had a magical landline? Who would you want to talk to? And did you spot that Easter Egg? Tell all in the comment below!