“Landline” by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

(Author: Rainbow Rowell) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

The first Rainbow Rowell book I read was Fangirl, then came Eleanor and Parkand finally Landline. To be honest, with each book my interest has been slowly decreasing. After I read Fangirl I was very excited to read Rowell’s other books, despite having some problems with Fangirl as well.

Come to think of it, all of Rowell’s books sort of remind me of the John Hughes movies, only sad and depressing. I’m just going to leave this here. You think about what happens to Andie Walsh after she goes to college.

Landline is a book about a woman, Georgie, who decides to stay in LA to work on Christmas week, while her husband, Neal, and two kids, Alice and Noomi, go to Omaha to spend Christmas with Neal’s mom. Georgie’s decision opens a gap between her and her husband and also reminds her of the first fight she and Neal had, some fifteen years ago. She goes on a spiritual journey both in her past and her present, trying to fix her mistakes and her relationship with Neal with has been getting worse and worse through the years.

For me Landline is a very ambiguous book. It presents many valid points about the nature of relationships and the notion of family, but it does it in a very strange and sometimes not very likable fashion. I think Rowell always makes her characters realistic to the point of being unlikable. I do not know if this is intentional – maybe she thinks people in real life are assholes, but I can almost never get attached to any of her characters. They are all so diverse, there always has to be a nerd, a diva, a gay person, a bitch, a nice person, an extremely shy person. She tries to get each and every type of personality in her books, and I do not find it as original as it is meant to be, or very interesting, to be honest.

Georgie is extremely selfish and obnoxious. She is in fact so self obsessed that it takes her ten years of marriage to realize that she is a total bitch to her caring husband. Then all of a sudden she decides she has to fix her marriage, which seems to actually work in the book, and would actually probably never work in real life. You cannot be an asswipe for ten years and get forgiven because you do one small gesture for your family.

Neal is equally strange and unrealistic. He almost NEVER laughs, does not smile, acts like a super mean person, and in spite of all that he is actually super sweet and a stay-at-home dad. Like such a person exists.

The rest of the characters are extremely superficial: Heather is the cool sister, Noomi(a name which annoyed me throughout the whole book) is a cat, Alice is only shown as a little brat, Georgie’s mom is a disgusting cougar, Seth is a seemingly gay non-gay person – Georgie’s meterosexual best friend slash once-upon-a-time-crush.

Also, the story seems highly unresolved. The whole time an “It’s a Wonderful Life” reference is being shoved down our throats but if I had to compare it to anything, it would actually be “A Christmas Carol”, in all honesty. And so, as the author works with that story, she seems to forget that the book should exist beyond the parallel with “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The reason for Georgie to stay in LA at the first place – her new show – is absolutely forgotten. The landline plot is never really explained. Neal’s POV remains a complete mystery to me. There was so much more I wanted to find out, aside from the things Rowell decided were relevant.

On the other hand, I found the book very wise, actually. Once you get over the crappy story, there is a lot of truth in the book, whether we would like to hear it or not. There were some quotes I found a bit sad, as they reminded me of a past relationship of mine.

“Just because you love someone,” she said, “that doesn’t mean your lives will fit together.”

And also this one:

“We were going to break up anyway,” he said. She frowned some more. “I mean,” Neal said, “we’d been talking about trying again. But then I met you. And I figured that if I felt the way I feel about you, maybe that was pretty solid evidence that she and I should break up.””

The sentence that I put in bold script is exactly the same thing that I have said once. It just hit a spot when I read it in the book.

Finally,

“Then we’ll get along fine,” she said, “because I’m extra good at wanting things. I want things until I feel sort of sick about them. I want enough for two normal people, at least.”

Ever felt like this? I have.

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