It's officially official : Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors. I would read her crossword puzzles and grocery lists. I read Eleanor & Park, and even though I was sobbing at the end, I became easily obsessed with her real characters and her ability to write about tough shit without overburdening you. Then I read Fangirl. I bought it a couple of days after it came out because I needed more Rainbow Rowell in my life immediately, and loved how much I was able to relate to it and again, create swoon-worthy characters. Then I got Attachments for Christmas, and AGAIN loved how lifelike her characters were. So when Landline was announced, it soared to the the top of my MUST BUY list, and became a new release I could not wait for. Naturally on July 8th, the day of it's release, I trotted to Barnes & Noble after work. Over the next two days, I was entirely engrossed and yup, I love this one, too.
Because I usually mix my reviews with upsides and downsides, I had to do something different with this because I can't think of any noteworthy downsides.
Georgie McCool is just one meeting away from potentially making her dreams a reality. Her and her writing partner Seth have been writing a TV series for years and they finally have the chance to pitch it to a huge network. The only problem is that they need to make four new episodes happen the week of Christmas, and Georgie has a plane ticket to Omaha so she can visit her husband Neal's family with their two daughters. Long story short: Georgie CANNOT go to Omaha. When she pitches this to Neal, she thinks they can just go to Omaha another time, but he shocks her by leaving with their kids and going anyway. His departure dusts off a long known fact: their marriage is not in a good place. Thrown off by her husband's cool departure, she crashes at her mother's house and unearths a retro yellow landline. When she plugs it in and attempts to call Neal, she is shocked to hear that he sounds much younger. She can talk to the Neal of the Past, and he has no idea about the state of their marriage in the Present. Georgie has to decide if she can fix her marriage before it even began, or if they both would be better off if their paths split.
1. It made me think a lot about my own relationship. A major theme in Landline is relationships and how much work needs to go into them to keep them afloat. It's easy to take your significant other or loved ones for granted and forget how much you need them there. Neal has made huge sacrifices so Georgie can continue chasing her dream, and in turn she works a lot of late nights and misses a lot of time with her children. When she starts talking to Neal on the magic fucking phone, she is shocked at how easy it is to talk to him while she's tethered to the landline with no distractions. It made me think a lot about my relationship with my boyfriend and how sometimes it doesn't feel like we are actually communicating, even though it feels like it because we live with each other and see each other all the time. It becomes so easy to get wrapped up in our online worlds and can go hours without talking about anything substantial. Landline made me want to change that.
2. Cliche-free characters and the little things. I will go more into character relationships later, but right now I want to give a standing ovation to Rainbow Rowell for letting her characters notice the little things, and for not being cookie-cutter characters. As Georgie reflects on the past of her relationship with Neal, she thinks about what made her fall for him. He's not conventionally attractive, but she's able to notice the perfect symmetry of his lips. He's not social at all, but with her, he's warm and talkative. Even with Georgie. She is chasing her dream of being a comedy television writer. I feel like the cliche for that would be Saturday Night Live, but I don't think the show is mentioned once. Georgie pulls a lot of her inspiration from 1970's sitcoms, which I thought was unique.
3. Character chemistry.
Rainbow Rowell has proven herself once again as being a wizard at writing characters who work so well together. I wanted every single character in my life. A lot of reviews I've read so far point out Neal as being unlikeable. He's an anti-social curmudgeon, but dammit if he isn't charming to Georgie. Then there's Seth, the man who Georgie probably spends more time with than her husband. I laughed out loud at the sassy, well-dressed Seth multiple times. We see how well he and Georgie work together, and their chemistry is electric enough to make us wonder whether or not some boundaries would be crossed. I was even obsessed with Georgie's family. Her mother is a pug obsessed woman with a penchant for bedazzled clothing. She is slightly off her rocker, but dammit if she didn't have me rolling every time she called her pug 'little mama.' I also adored Georgie's way-younger sister Heather, who so perfectly depicts a sarcastic teen. All of these characters were wonderful and round and I wanted all of them.
4. Witty dialogue. This is probably so effective because of #3, but there is a lot of dialogue in this book that makes reading Landline lightning fast. It's so easy to get pulled into the conversations between their characters. Whether it's Georgie's pleas with Past Neal, work talk with Seth, or Heather lamenting that sometimes she feels like the pug with the least amount of ribbons, each conversation was incredibly real and hilarious and awesome.
5. A CAMEO. I didn't even realize that there was a cameo from two of Rowell's other characters until after I had finished the book and I was stalking her Twitter. That's how subtle it was. Then I had to go back and read the ending again and there they were. AHHHH!
Basically, Landline is just as wonderful as all of her other books. It's the perfect blend of tough subjects and hilarious conversations. Each character is real and amazing and WHEN IS HER NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?
PS: Then awesome folks from Macmillan Audio shared a clip of the Landline audiobook to share with me so I could share it with you! Take a peek at Chapter 2 and have a listen HERE!