Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Reviewed by Consuelo
I was hesitant as I started Landline. I haven’t read Attachments, and I was worried that Rainbow Rowell’s grown-up characters would not have the same grip on me that her young adult characters did when I read Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. My hesitation didn’t last long as I was soon flying through the pages. I realized that her brand of writing doesn’t just lend itself to teens, but portrays the honesty of anybody going through a transition in their life. Which, let’s face it, we are all constantly doing – in our careers, in our relationships, in ourselves.
The character of Georgie is an Every Woman. She has kids who she loves, a job she works too hard at, and a marriage in which she should maybe work a little harder. She’s funny. She’ll wear a bra until it literally falls apart just to avoid buying a new one. You know, any Every Woman. When she stays at home in Los Angeles over Christmas for the career opportunity of a lifetime and her husband Neal takes their two daughters to visit his parents in Nebraska, their marriage is at an impasse. Georgie tries desperately to stay in contact with him, and is unable to reach him until she tries the old, yellow rotary phone in her childhood bedroom. Who she gets a hold of is Neal in the past, Christmas 1998, before they were married and a previous time when their relationship had been at a standstill.
While Rowell’s concept is very charming, it is also extremely insightful. As their past and present selves criss-cross, Georgie wonders what her future with (or without) Neal will be. Even without a magic phone, we all do this. One of the things I love about Rowell’s point of view is that she doesn’t provide a sugar-coated version of love. She realizes that love (even true love) is sometimes just as selfish as it is selfless. Georgie “wanted him [Neal] more than she wanted him to be happy.” Rowell’s characters make mistakes. Those mistakes, like all of ours, have the ability to go backward and forward. Time can make the mistakes harder, and sometimes, it can repair them. Landline is a fitting companion to Rowell’s other work, as she continues to explore the mysterious ways our hearts work.