Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I am reposting this 2014 review because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $2.99
Summary: A 14 year marriage is in danger, and a magic phone to the past may be just the thing the marriage needs to be saved.

Rainbow Rowell is definitely now in my list of ‘favorite authors’. Like most I first heard about her because of her breakout book Eleanor and Park. From there I moved on to Fangirl and Attachments and now Landline. Each book impressed me more than the previous one.

I, and I think many others, still think of Rowell as a young adult author.  Although even Eleanor and Park was not originally published as a young adult book. And all of the rest of her books deal primarily with adults.

So with Landline, it feels a bit like Rowell is again trying to breaking free of her young adult label and writing a much heavier and more adult oriented novel.

Georgie McCool (yes it is her real name) is a TV script writer. Just days before Christmas, and the day before her family is scheduled to fly to Omaha to spend Christmas with her Mother in Law, her dream comes true. A Network wants to see a script for a pilot and four additional episodes for her own series.

But that means that she cannot go to Omaha with her husband (Neal) and daughters. And instead she will have to stay in LA and write with her best friend and writing partner, Seth.

When Neal decides that he is taking the girls and going to Omaha anyway, instead of staying and having Christmas with her, it creates a crisis for Georgie. She realizes that she has checked out of her marriage in many ways. That her husband has been unhappy for a while. That she has not even been taking care of her own basic needs let alone the needs of her family.

Due to a cell phone that never works, and a desire to not be alone at home, she end up staying at her mom’s and trying to call Neal from her high school landline phone in her childhood bedroom. And the Neal she is able to talk to is the college boyfriend version of Neal in 1995.

We do not get an explanation for the magic (as is common in this type of contemporary fantasy-ish book). But Georgie spends a lot of time considering whether she has lost her mind, in addition to her marriage.

I really did enjoy this novel. It is a great reminder of the importance of marriage and family without minimizing or exaggerating the difficulties. Georgie is a bit whiney and a mess most of the time. That makes sense in the context of the novel and where she is in life. But it is something that annoyed several of the Amazon reviewers.

Without giving too much away, much of the resolution is about simply doing better. And in real life,that scares me. Simply working harder is just not going to do it for most people. Most people are already too over worked and stressed. Something has to be removed in order to create the margin necessary to live a life, not just exist.

So I get some of the complaints from other reviews that are complaining about ‘yet another woman that needs to give up her dream for her family.’  But real life has limits and no one can do it all without giving something up.

Neal is pretty much the perfect guy. Great stay at home Dad, good cook, even tempered and kind (even when he is angry). He was willing to give up his dreams and job to care for the kids and willing to stay in California (even though he really is not a fan of LA culture). But he does act like a bit of a 2 year old once he leaves and goes to Omaha.

The whole reason that the story works is that Neal refuses to talk to Georgie in the current time line. So the only version of Neal that she can talk to is the 1995 college boyfriend Neal.

I understand why some would not like Landlines. But I was not one of them. Pretty much every new book I read by Rainbow Rowell has become my new favorite of her books.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

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