After reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I picked up another book by her. And I expected it to be another young adult novel. But, Landline felt really different than Fangirl because it’s an adult novel aimed at young adult women or married women. It’s a more mature novel because one of the major topics is marriage.
Georgie McCool (yup, that’s her name) is a TV writer living in California. She married Neal, a quiet guy who drew comics at her college humor paper. They had two little girls together. Slowly, Georgie put her work above her family and things reach a breaking point when she has to choose whether to go to Omaha to visit Neal’s family for Christmas or stay in LA to write episodes for her original TV show that is close to being picked up. Neal and the kids end up going to Omaha without her. Distraught, Georgie stays at her mom’s house and uses her mom’s landline to call Neal. The phone magically connects her to a younger Neal from the past. So now, Georgie has the opportunity to change her future and possibly fix her marriage.
I appreciated the deep character development in Landline. The backstories of Georgie, her husband Neal, and her best friend Seth are slowly revealed throughout the novel. We see how Georgie and Neal first meet, their fights, wedding, etc. Rowell is such a beast at writing dialogue.
I loved how Georgie repeatedly ignored problems until they blew up in her face. Rowell shows us this trait first by describing how Georgie’s phone battery is dead but she hasn’t gotten around to fixing it because it works when plugged in. Also, Georgie has an ancient bra that she loves but the underwire is poking her. It’s not until it gets shredded in her mom’s laundry machine that she has to throw it away. These consistent tidbits about her helped me understand why she didn’t confront the problems in her marriage sooner.
I also liked how difficult tasks were for Georgie. She doesn’t just fly to Omaha. She deals with the front desk woman. She has to fly to Denver first. The flight doesn’t immediately take off. She sits next to rude people (Georgie asks if a mom wants to sit next to her son and she replies, ” Mhm no. They use seat assignments to identify the bodies”), she gets stranded in Denver, her phone finally dies, there aren’t taxis in Omaha, it’s snowing, she’s not dressed properly, etc.
This book really reminded me of Swim by Jennifer Weiner because both main characters are TV show writers, struggle with relationships and confidence, and it’s more about the characters than the plot.
Personally, I didn’t like Neal because his personality always seemed prickly like a porcupine. Part of me was rooting for Georgie to end things with him. I’d choose Seth in a heartbeat if I were Georgie. When Seth finally told her how he felt, I squealed. But, I realize it’d be a cliche and boring novel if Georgie just ditched her husband (and father of two kids) for her hot best friend.
The ending disappointed me because it was too much of a “happy ending.” Then again, I’d probably be complaining if it wasn’t a happy ending. I didn’t like how they magically got back together again and how the meeting for the television show was no longer a priority. It felt like the conflict was ignored and not resolved.
I think the novel could’ve been just as good without the supernatural time-traveling phone. The character development was strong enough to carry the novel and I think a more realistic plot could’ve followed. What do you think?