The ever-glorious Rainbow Rowell has the honor of writing the first non-YA book I’ve read since August. I’m back in the saddle, ladies and gents, and it feels good!
Rainbow Rowell is just…magic. I want to crawl between the covers of her novels and live there forever. I want to snuggle in her words and dream, dimly aware of the obligations of the “real world.”
Landline, Rowell’s first non-YA novel since Attachments is anchored in the character of Georgie McCool, one half of a sitcom writing dream team. Georgie and her writing partner, Seth, have one shot to impress a big-time producer that they have the perfect mid-season replacement show.
This is Georgie’s big shot…and it’s also the week of Christmas…and she was also scheduled to fly to Omaha with her husband, Neal, and their two young daughters. Georgie and Neal decide to split up temporarily. She will stay behind in LA and hammer out the makings of a season of episodes with Seth and another writer, and Neal will take the girls to his mother’s. A perfect compromise that nobody is happy with. Georgie can’t face going back to their empty house, so she camps out at her eccentric mother’s house with her younger sister and stepfather. Georgie can’t get ahold of Neal on her busted iPhone, so she calls him on an ancient yellow landline phone in her childhood (and early adulthood) bedroom.
Neal answers…22-year-old Neal, that is. Georgie has entered some weird time warp where she is able to change the outcome of their lives. Will she take it? Is their relationship worth it in the end? How far will she go to tell him she loves him?
Usually I bow out about stories about married-with-kids life. Not really my thing. And I had read some lukewarm reactions on Amazon and Goodreads.
But I am so, so glad that I ignored them and went with my gut. Because this book is fantastic.
First, dialogue. Good god, Rowell can write some damn good dialogue. Perhaps it’s because she’s trained as a journalist. I think she could even make two characters reading the phone book to each other sound witty, familiar, and hilarious.
Second, I believed in Georgie. And Neal. Rowell gets complimented quite a lot on writing great boyfriends (Levi in Fangirl, Park in Eleanor & Park…), and Neal is no exception here. But the thing is, somehow Rowell has managed to pull off writing two characters that are at odds, and I loved them both and was rooting for them the whole time. Georgie admitted her failures and shortcomings over and over again, but she was so damn earnest that I believed her. And I wanted Neal to take her back.
This book made me excited to fall in love for life.
Also, Seth was great! I loved that their relationship was quasi-platonic and that he didn’t try anything fishy or shifty.
If I have one complaint, it’s that I’m still not sure I entirely understand what happened with the phone. That central piece of the story seemed oddly the most confusing and most mind-labyrinth-inducing for me. At the end of the day, I kind of just gave up and went along with it because everything else was so well done.
All I have to say is this…