After reading and enjoying Rainbow Rowell’s two young adult offerings last year, I was concerned that her latest offering Landline might not live up expectations. The good news is that Landline shows Rowell once again at the top of her game as she was with Eleanor and Park even if the novel doesn’t quite hit the stratospheric heights that Fangirl did.*
* That may have more to do with this reader than the novel itself. Fangirl was the first of Rowell’s three novels I read last year and was such an unexpected breath of fresh air and a pleasure to read that all of her other novels are competing with my warm feelings and good memories of Fangirl.
But don’t let the fact that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Fangirl make you think I didn’t like Landline. It’s a very close second in my ranking of Rowell’s novels and an early contender as one of the ten best books I’ve read (or will read) this year.
On the surface, Georgie McCool has a great life. She works with her best friend as a writer for a hit TV sitcom and together they are finally getting the chance for their dream TV project to become a reality. At home, she’s got a great husband in Neal and two great kids whom she adores.
But with the holidays rolling around, Georgie finds herself torn between going with Neal to visit his family for Christmas and cranking out several scripts for an upcoming network meeting for the dream TV project. Neal, it seems, has reached a breaking point in their relationship and declares that Georgia is welcome to stay in Los Angeles to work on project but that he’s going home to see his family and taking their daughters with him.
Georgia is suddenly concerned that her marriage could be dissolving and that she’s not seen the signs that she should or could have been fighting for it all this time. Georgie seeks solace at her mother’s house where she’s able to call her husband on the old landline phone from her teenage bedroom.
But there’s something different about the landline and the connection to Neal. As we find out over the course of the story, this isn’t the first time that Neal has left Georgie behind to go Omaha and his family in frustration.
Landline has a supernatural twist to it that Rowell wisely grounds in the reality of her strong, solid characters. The novel explores Georgia and Neal’s relationship as well as the long-simmering jealousy over the closeness Georgie shares with her comedy-writing partner and best friend (who is also male). Rowell translates the relatable characters from her young adult novels to the world of adults and never missed a beat. Just as I was with Fangirl, I found myself saying “Just one more chapter” and reading on far longer than I expected to. This is a novel that hits all the emotional moments and earns each one.
I was interested to see how Rowell would follow-up her banner year last year. The good news is that she keeps well in stride with Landline. If you loved Rowell’s other books, you’re going to love this one. If you’ve heard a lot of buzz for her and wondered what it was all about, this is a great place to jump in and see what the buzz is all about.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel from the Amazon Vine Program.