When I moved to the US three years ago to begin my college career as a freshman at Princeton, Rainbow Rowell was one of the first authors that I discovered.
Having confessed to my roommate (who was one of seven that I lived with!) my obsession for all books that were categorised as “young adult”, Rainbow Rowell was on the top of her list of authors that I absolutely needed to check out.
However, while I quickly made my way through Rowell’s other better-known books like Eleanor and Park and Fangirl, Landline somehow escaped my attention. Published in 2014, Landline is definitely not a new addition to Rowell’s list of published books, but it was only when I picked it up during my internship in New York this summer that I realised that it had been around for a while.
Without spoiling too much, the basic plot of Landline follows the life of middle-aged protagonist Georgie McCool, as she navigates the difficult balance between maintaining her strained relationship with her husband (and two daughters) and “making it” in the world of TV production and scriptwriting. With Landline beginning in the days leading-up to Christmas, Georgie makes a big decision to stay behind in L.A. to work on the script for the pilot of the TV show that is poised to be her big-break. Meanwhile, her husband, Neal brings the children to Omaha without her to spend Christmas as they had originally planned – with his family – leaving things on bad terms between Georgie and Neal. And then, things get strange: as Georgie begins to regret the growing rift between her and Neal, she discovers a magic landline that allows her to call Neal-from-the-past. Should she circumvent the future and stop them from marrying in the first place? Or should she use it to heal the distance between them, and make amends?
For me, Landline was clearly a departure from several of the YA books that Rowell has produced. With a more grown-up protagonist, Landline was able to explore more of the dynamics of love and compromise than her other books had, all the while remaining funny and upbeat. The relationships between Georgie and the other characters in the book (like her co-workers, mother and younger sister) were all totally relatable, and there was a good balance between the personal growth that Georgie makes throughout the book, and the people around her.
One of the things that stood out to me about Landline was that it wasn’t a cliche love story. Reading Landline, there were twists and turns in Georgie and Neal’s relationships that hooked me on their story, and made me really invested in their happily-ever-after. I loved that Neal wasn’t some Brad Pitt-esque guy, and that he was some average bloke that Georgie fell in love with during college, and that they struggled to make ends meet at first. Their love story was believable, funny and most of all, it felt real.
For anyone looking for a good read, I’d absolutely recommend checking out Rowell’s Landline, or any of her other books!