Book Reviews · Rainbow Rowell · Reviews

Book Review: Not Sure If I’d Pick Up the “Landline” (by Rainbow Rowell) Again

Format: eBook
Published: July 2014
Page Count: 308 pages
Time Read: 4 days
Rating: ★★★☆☆

(contains spoilers)

Georgie and Neal love each other, married each Landlineother and had two darling little girls together. So when it comes time to head off to Nebraska for Christmas with Neal’s family, Georgie, a TV show writer, finally gets her show picked up. Great news, right? Until she has to come up with four scripts in 10 days with her best friend, Seth (who also happens to dislike Neal as much as Neal dislikes him). Over Christmas. Georgie chooses to stay behind, spending Christmas working on her dream, but Neal’s irritation and disbelief upon their separation leaves Georgie’s mind wondering if she and Neal were really meant to stay together.

Not wanting to stay in her empty house while her family is gone, she stays with her mom, her not-much-older-than-her step-father, and her 18-year old sister, Heather. Staying in her childhood room with an unreliable cellphone, Georgie turns to using her old bright yellow rotary phone to keep in contact with Neal. She quickly discovers that when she calls him from the landline she isn’t talking to present-day Neal and instead finds herself talking to Winter of 1998 Neal, right after he left her the first time and right before he drove back to propose to her on Christmas Day.

There were some heartwarming moments scattered throughout the book that are worth mentioning, even briefly: one of her beloved pugs giving birth in the dryer while Georgie helped the pug with the pups as Heather’s pizza girl crush directed Georgie while Heather freaked out and when the young couple helped Georgie out with clothes and a ride to Neal’s mom’s house:

“You can’t walk through the snow barefoot,” he insisted.
“I’ll be fine.” Georgie opened the passenger door.
He opened his door, too.
“Oh for Christ’s sake,” the girl said. “You can wear my boots.” She reached for the floor. Georgie noticed she was wearing a small engagement ring. “You can have them. I don’t even like them.”
“Absolutely not,” Georgie said. “What if you get stuck in the snow?”
“I’ll be fine,” she said. “He’d carry me across the city before he let me get my feet wet.”

But one of my favorites was a conversation between Georgie and her mom about Heather being gay and her not knowing their mom already knew and told Georgie this:

“It’s fine with me,” her mom said. “The women in our family have terrible luck with men, anyway.”

And it was the little scenes like this that weren’t connected to Neal that made me like the book, if I’m being honest.

Photo created by YasmineWithAnE on Tumblr.
Photo created by YasmineWithAnE.

This was an entertaining read until around chapter 15 and didn’t pick up again until around chapter 24. “Landline” made me feel excited to reach the high point, the top of the hill where things were going to reach their pivotal point in the novel…until I got exhausted half way up and wanted to just turn around and go home. The lack of action and the stretched out scenes, or rather, Georgie’s stretched-out thought process was taking my focus away from the novel to the point where I didn’t even care about coming back to the book when I took breaks from it (but I’m one of those people who has to finish what they start, so I did come back and I did finish the book). I enjoyed the concept of the book, the “magical phone” and whatnot, but there were many occasions where nothing really happened and I was bored reading the same occurrences over and over again for chapters on end.

Neal’s character quickly irritated and bored me. It’s great to see a stay-at-home father taking care of the children while the mom works, and works hard and long hours, at that. I also understand while Neal would be slightly agitated that Georgie put her job ahead of her family, key word being “slightly”. If I were in Georgie’s shoes, I wouldn’t understand what made me stay with Neal long enough to have kids, to be honest, let alone through having two kids. (Parents not getting along while having children may or may not lead to divorce, yes, I know, but that’s an entirely different topic.) Strung out Georgie was spending so much time worrying about Neal and the kids rather than being productive working on the scripts she stayed behind to write that she may as well just have gone with them. This was the springboard for their ‘second separation’, but yet at the end, there is no mention of it or the outcome, despite it playing a role in why Georgie stayed behind to begin with.

Overall, it was an okay read, and I suppose I can see why people like it so much (in terms of obstacles *read in an overly quirky voice* being overcome for true love!) but it really didn’t click with me. I needed things to be a bit tighter going up the hill and for the resolution to pay off more. I don’t see myself re-reading this book any time soon, if at all, though I am planning on reading her other books in hopes I like another as much as I liked “Attachments”.

Would I suggest this book to a friend? No.

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