Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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?

3.5 cupcakes

“You meet someone, and you fall in love, and you hope that that person is the one — and then at some point, you have to put down your chips. You just have to make a commitment and hope that you’re right.”

Rainbow Rowell has the gift of being able to write beautiful yet honest depictions of love’s many stages. Landline is a bit of a departure from her previous works in that it takes a less idealistic view of love and integrates a touch of magical realism into the story, however it manages to find its way into your heart all the same.

Landline is about how much can change between your twenties and your forties. The choices you make and the things that you’re passionate about now may not be enough to sustain your happiness in the future, and sometimes it’s hard to remember how work went from being something that you enjoyed to something that you have to do. Landline also shows how easy it is to become complacent in your relationships, reminding us not to take the people we love for granted and to work harder to keep the spark alive.

Despite the fact that I’m twenty years old and the only relationship I’m in is with my Netflix account, I found it incredibly easy to sympathize with Georgie. She’s very goal-oriented, and her tight focus on work often takes her away from her home responsibilities – a large source of tension in her household. Georgie’s selfishness, especially when it came to her relationship with her best friend Seth, made her hard to like at times, but her narrative voice was compelling enough that I could overlook that.

Through the use of a “magic phone” and flashbacks, the past and present are weaved together to remind Georgie (and readers) about just how much she truly loves her husband. Readers get to experience their relationship from the beginning (from when they first met to where they are now, with all the bumps between), so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself completely rooting for Neal and Georgie to stay together by the end of the book.

My main complaint about Landline is that the plot was rather slow. With Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Attachments, I had a rather hard time accomplishing anything as I didn’t want to put them down; Landline, however, was rather easy to walk away from, and just as easy to get back into after I picked it back up. There were also several plot points that I wish had been explored further. Mostly, though, the open ending left me questioning the strength of Georgie and Neal’s relationship, and whether or not they could truly last.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Landline. While it may not be my favourite of Rainbow Rowell’s works, I’ll still check out whatever beautifully written book she comes out with next.

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