Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Landline by Rainbow RowellLandline by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 8, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 308
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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three-half-stars

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?

Landline is one of those novels that reminds me why I mostly read YA. That isn’t to say that YA is better than adult fiction or easier or any such thing. It says nothing about the books and a lot about me. Rowell’s Fangirl is a book I felt in my bones. I empathized with everything and it hit me in my emotional heart. With Landline, I had nary a feel. It’s still a good book, but I can’t even begin to relate to this novel of love and marriage and questioning whether the former is enough to sustain the latter. The two friends I spoke to in long term relationships both found it to be really affecting in a very personal way, but I’m not in the same phase of life. I suspect Landline may be my least favorite Rainbow Rowell novel, at least until I grow into it.

Georgie McCool fell in love with Neal in college, when they were both working for their college’s humor magazine. She felt an intense attraction to him, despite him being a bit hobbity, according to her gorgeous best friend, Seth. This right here is my favorite thing about Rainbow Rowell’s ouevre as a whole. She writes about the sort of people who usually don’t get to have fictional romances. Her heroes and heroines are generally not hugely attractive by traditional standards. Georgie was pretty when she was young, before pregnancy messed with her figure, but Neal is short, never laughs and rarely smiles. Despite his taciturn disposition, she’s got it bad. Usher bad. Rowell manages to present these flawed, imperfect people to you warts and all (these are solely metaphorical warts), while still completely convincing you of the passion between them and making them feel desirable. How? Because she’s aware that people of all sorts are desirable. People who look nothing like underwear models fall in love every day.

Landline is, to be perfectly frank, a Lifetime made-for-TV Christmas special. Or maybe ABC Family. The channel’s a bit immaterial, here. The point is: Christmas Special. A very well-written Christmas special, but it is one just the same. The plot is, magic-fucking-phone aside, entirely predictable. Then again, this is a romance and those tend to be rather predictable, though I didn’t feel that Eleanor & Park or Fangirl were quite so simple so far as plot structure goes. Landline is heartwarming and fast-paced, meant to provide a sense of love for the holidays, even though it’s coming out 6 months before Christmas. Paperback redesign in November/December with a Christmasy cover?

Georgie’s decision in Landline is a classic one known to many Christmas specials: work or family. She has the chance to finally write her own show on her dream network with her writing partner and best friend, Seth. Unfortunately, the family has tickets to visit Neal’s family in Omaha, Nebraska. Georgie chooses work but, as her family pesters her about Neal having left her, she begins to wonder if that was the right choice and to reevaluate her priorities.

Enter magic-fucking-phone. Since her iPhone is always dead, Georgie uses the landline to call Neal. He answers, but he’s also Neal in 1998, not 2013. Talking to him might be her chance to save Neal from the unhappiness of being married to her. Maybe they’d be better off apart than together. Their conversations also serve to remind her of all of the good times. The phone part is rather silly, but I’m cool with the logic of it. Plus, that’s not really the point of it all.

The one thing I really didn’t like was the way everyone reacted to Neal going on vacation without Georgie. Everyone’s like “he left you,” but married couples go on vacations without one another sometimes. This is not an abnormal thing. It is a sign of issues, yes, but nothing indicated that they were on the road to Splitsville. All the agonizing she did may have been helpful in the end, but I don’t think Georgie needed to be quite so worried. Also, why was present Neal such an ass and not answering his phone?

Oh, my favorite part, the one part that gave me some feels was Heather’s crush on the pizza guy. Of course I’m going to be into the story line of the 18-year-old little sister. So adorable and all of the yes to this part.

Landline is an excellent Christmas special. It’s the Love, Actually of Christmas novels in quality. I’ll definitely be holding on to this book so that, someday, when I’m ready, I can reread and have all the feels. This one will be a lot more powerful for those who have been in love before and who has lived through the themes herein.

Favorite Quote:

“I love you more than I hate everything else.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif love actually total agony

7 responses to “Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell”

  1. Meg says:

    This book is def. not Rainbow in the Rainbow way of her YA Rainbow. (I can’t even follow that sentence. Whatever, it’s early).

    That said, hell yes to personal affecting and meaning and general whatsit. I love it in a strange sort of this book is both depressing and magical and your Christmas Special analogy is perfect and seriously what am I even typing anymore?

    I’m sorry it didn’t click for you and am glad you still somewhat enjoyed it. Heather was adorable and I COMPLETELY GET THE NEVER CHARGED IPHONE THING. Is it weird that that was the part that spoke to me the most? Every time she mentioned her phone being dead I was like OMG I KNOW, RIGHT? PREEEEEACH. Once those batteries go, there is no bringing them back.
    Meg recently posted…Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn AndersonMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I think I understand this but also yes early brain is strange brain.

      Totally loaning this to my mom along with dancing Chinatown book. For her, I could see it being really moving, and I’m sure if I’d been in love and struggled with making that relationship work then I would have had feels about this, but instead I’m just like AWW you get that pizza person, Heather.

      See, I was just going FIX YO PHONE. Also, NEAL, PICK YOUR PHONE THE FUCK UP. GROW UP AND BE MATURE WHAT EVEN ARE YOU DOING?

  2. Nori says:

    Christina, I just posted my review of this too! And I totally agree with you! I felt the most disconnected from the main character here than I have in any of her other books (even her other adult one), but mainly I think cause I’m just not there…But then part of me goes, should this matter? The best book characters are the ones I click with and relate to, no matter how different in ages/personalities/life choices. I don’t know. I can also totally see this as an ABC family 25 days of Christmas special.
    Nori recently posted…Landline by Rainbow RowellMy Profile

    • Nori says:

      Also, that little boy in Love Actually is going to be in the Maze Runner!
      Nori recently posted…Landline by Rainbow RowellMy Profile

      • Christina Franke says:

        Yeah, I just do not understand what she’s going through on an emotional level. It’s interesting and I get it, but, the power of Rainbow, is you bonding and that did not happen here. True, REALLY powerful stuff can make me feel feels I’ve never had before, which this did not do.

        So not excited for The Maze Runner, but good for him.

  3. Isabel says:

    Your review gave me a different opinion on the book, but I still want to stab it endlessly.
    Isabel recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (22)My Profile

  4. I really respect this review. Like, I liked how honest you were about not having been in a spot in your life where you can connect deeply with Georgie.

    For me, Landline was personal. I mean, I am not about to splash my life on here, but the themes of intimacy and losing that loving feeling and taking someone for granted are ones that I think anyone who has been in a really long term relationship as an adult can relate to.

    But yeah, re what Meg said about the iPhone never being charged, that’s my life. Last night before bed, I was down to 1% battery life even though I could have charged it all day.

    Also that GIF is perfection.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…#ReadIsla: Pre-Order & PreviewMy Profile

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