Life in the Fast Lane

A TRIATHLETE'S MULTISPORT ADVENTURES, TRAVELS, RANDOM MUSINGS, AND CHRONICLES OF HER OTHERWISE ORDINARY LIFE

Review: "Landline"

By 10:53 AM , , , , , , ,

I was first introduced to Rainbow Rowell (not literally, though; how I wish!) either by Isa or Carina, who were tweeting about Eleanor & Park about a year ago. Curious as always, especially when it comes to an author I'd never heard of before, I immediately decided to get a copy of E&P.

I was so hooked by the way Rainbow Rowell wrote this book that I needed to get her other two books, Attachments and Fangirl. Again, I was not disappointed.

Eleanor & Park and Fangirl were written for young adults while Attachments was written for an older audience. However, common to all of them was her unique style of writing: the way she'd draw her readers in by making the characters not just believable but endearing; the way she strung words together that would make you torn between wanting to jump to the next page immediately or wanting to savor every page so that you don't come to the end of the book just yet; the way she would tug at your heartstrings with every possible emotion under the sun (i.e. "Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.").

So when I heard that she was going to release a new book early this month, I was more than excited. I couldn't wait to see what she came up with.

True enough, I paid a visit to my friendly neighborhood bookstore and picked up her latest book, Landline, just two days after it was announced that copies were already available locally.


And so I read.

Loosely, Landline is about making a marriage work. While written in the third person, mostly it is seen from the protagonist's perspective.

Georgie McCool is a writer for a comedy TV show and knows that her marriage is on the rocks. And when she decides to stay behind for work while her husband, Neal, and their two daughters fly off to Omaha for the Holidays, she realizes that she may have made the wrong choice.

Georgie knows that she has to do something to salvage things, but doesn't know how. More importantly, she can't pinpoint when, exactly, she and her husband started drifting apart.

While staying at her mom's place for Christmas, Georgie calls up Neal using her old phone in her old room. Later on, it dawns on her that she's actually speaking with Neal-from-the-past and not present-day Neal. This leads her to wonder if she can change the course of her marriage by conversing with Neal-of-1998.

I found this to be an interesting premise, just like her previous books. Again, Rowell engages us by really introducing us to each of the characters in this book as well as allowing us to enter their world through her choice of words.

However, I felt that Landline was different from the first three books. While it was an enjoyable read, I couldn't quite figure out why I didn't like it was much as the others.

(Spoilers may be ahead, so read at your own risk.)

I guess the one major issue (if you could call it that) that I had with Landline was the fact that when Georgie realized that she was speaking with Neal-from-the-past, it was abrupt. I thought that, in advertising speak, the "reveal" would've been a slower process. I thought that there would be a suspenseful, almost suspicious build-up leading to a grand lightbulb, piss-in-your-pants kind of moment.

(Then again, maybe this is just too cliché for Rowell.)

(But then again, it was still too abrupt, at least for me.)

It just felt that all of a sudden, Georgie knew with such clarity that she wasn't speaking with Neal-of-today. Aside from a few clues that led her to wonder what was going on, she knew almost instantly that not only was she talking to Neal-from-the-past; she knew which year (1998) this Neal she was speaking with came from. She doesn't try to figure out how she "time traveled"; she just accepts it for what it is. In my mind, a writer like herself would be totally perplexed and would do everything humanly possible find out how this happened.

Also, for some reason, some parts felt slow to me. In particular, when they dwelled on Georgie's musings about her mistakes, what she could have and should have done. Until she finally did something concrete (which happens pretty much towards the end), the latter half of the book deals mostly with Georgie's internal dialogue and her conversations with Neal-from-the-past, which, again, are all about the past.

This leads me to wonder how Rowell would've gotten Georgie to step up without the use of her yellow phone.

However, just like the previous books, I still enjoyed Landline and I'm pretty sure that anyone who decides to read it also will. The plot is fresh, the writing is charming is humorous (Georgie herself is a comedy writer, and the whole book pretty much reflects this kind of tonality), you'll fall in love with how Neal and Georgie first fell in love, and the characters are fun to get to know (I particularly enjoyed the banter between Georgie and her writing sidekick, Seth, as well as Georgie and her sister, Heather).

Most of all, it reminds us all of one of life's biggest truths: relationships require a lot of work and can never be taken for granted.

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