Landline

by Rainbow Rowell
First line: “Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy nabbed off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: It’s all about marriage, so I don’t know how appealing it would be to teenagers. It’s also full of f-bombs and illusions to sex and drinking (but no actual, I don’t think). It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

After 15 years of marriage, Georgie and Neal are broken. Well, Georgie doesn’t really like to think they are; she loves her husband and her two  young daughters. But she’s gone all the time, writing for a popular TV sitcom. Neal stays home with the kids, and does a fantastic job, but increasingly it seems like it’s not enough for him. And so when an opportunity comes for Georgie, and her best friend Seth, to pitch a new show — their own show — just after Christmas, Neal digs his heels in. They were supposed to go to his mom’s house, in Omaha. And now Georgie is putting work first, again. So, he packs up the kids and takes them, leaving Georgie stranded a week before Christmas.

But then, Georgie discovers that her old yellow landline phone connects her to a Neal in the past, one the year they got engaged. And maybe, by talking to Neal-in-the-past, she can figure out what is wrong in the present.

Rowell is a talented writer; don’t get me wrong. There were some fun moments, and some beautiful turns of phrase in this book. But, I think she writes better about falling in love than about staying in love. There wasn’t much drive, much reason to stay connected to this book (and I didn’t cry!), much reason to care about the characters. It all felt very rote, very run-of-the-mill, and not at all fresh or original. Perhaps we were supposed to think it was, since Georgie is the breadwinner and Neal is the stay-at-home parent, but it felt like the same old conflicts with just a role reversal. And perhaps there was growth, but I just didn’t feel it. They are both self absorbed and unfit for each other, and although Rowell wanted us to believe that love is “enough” she never gave me enough proof to convince me that, in the case of Georgie and Neal, it would be.

Not bad, but not great, either.

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