Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I was skeptical of this book's premise. I don't especially like books with magical realism, and it didn't seem to fit with the other Rainbow Rowell book I'd previously read, which was very realistic, and that was one thing I liked about it. But I did like it very much so I thought I'd give this one a try, and see if she managed the magical realism part without being annoying, and she totally did!

Georgie is a TV writer, and right before the holidays, she gets an amazing deal, where the spec script she and her writing partners wrote years ago, their dream project, gets picked up, but only if they can write a half-dozen scripts in less than a week, and deliver them on December 26. Georgie knows this will royally tick off her husband Neal, who's been the house-husband and who finds her writing partner irritating. And it might break her kids' hearts. But she just can't turn her back on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So Neal packs up the kids and goes to his parents'. Has he left her? Or has he just taken the kids to visit their grandparents for the holidays? Why won't he return any of Georgie's calls or texts? The anxiety needles Georgie so much that she ends up not getting much work done herself, defeating the whole purpose of ruining Christmas. She goes to her mother's house, mostly to not be alone (although it's also closer to her work.) And she tries calling Neal again, but this time on an ancient landline phone in her childhood bedroom. And she reaches him, finally. But... she reaches him in college. Over the Christmas break which starts with a fight and ends up with him showing up unexpectedly and proposing. So she is talking to a Neal from about 15 years ago.

Is she supposed to be? Is that why he showed up and proposed? Or will she mess that up if she keeps talking to him? Does it even matter if she can't manage to talk to him in the present day? Is it worth possibly ruining her marriage over this career opportunity, if she squanders it away, being too exhausted to work on the scripts after staying up all night long to talk to her husband-in-the-past?

I didn't love this book as much as Attachments, but that was a high bar, and I still liked it very much. She did totally pull off the magical realism without annoying me. It was a pretty realistic picture of a relationship. About 10 pages from the end I didn't know how she was going to wrap it all up but she does. It really does make you think about how the past shapes events today, how the person you thought you met long ago impacts your relationship with that person today, even if neither of you are the same person, and how to decide about competing priorities--when does career trump family and when should family trump career? Really easy to read and issues that most of us can relate to.

I checked this book out of the library.

This book is published by Macmillan, my employer, although they were not yet my employer when I read it.

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