Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now. Maybe that was always beside the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . . Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
I’d give all of the stars in the universe to this book, no question whatsoever, if it only were literally possible to do so.
I finished reading Rainbow Rowell’s newest release, Landline, on my flight home from London (two days after having met her at a signing, if you care to know). I was sat between two rather stoic, angry-looking businessmen, reading away on this little masterpiece of a book and feeling utterly emotionally torn, when, yes, I started crying. I tried not to, because, ya know, public embarrassment and all, but those two businessmen next to me tried everything, and I mean everything to get me to stop because apparently they thought I was hyperventilating or scared of flying. (Which I’m not, by the way, I adore planes and everything involving taking flight). Anyway, when I proceeded to tell them that I was, in fact, alright except for the emotional turmoil my book was putting me through, they grimaced at me and stamped me the crazy kind. It’s safe to say my silent crying was ignored for the rest of the time aboard by those two. Case in point, every single Rowell book has me in heaps of laughs and tears and in-betweens that seems to make other people around me uncomfortable. And I love it.
Landline is my fourth Rowell book, and I’m pretty sure that by now everyone knows that this woman is my biggest girl crush ever to walk this earth. So, my expectations were naturally super high, and you know what? She met every single one of them, and then some. Because honestly, I don’t know how she does it, but Rainbow’s way with words makes all of the emotions buried inside my chest spill out of me, in the best-est way possible. Her writing is challenging, upheaving, soothing, cathartic, and most of all, terrifyingly honest.
Landline revolves around Georgie McCool, who, along with best friend and writing partner Seth, has finally pulled an option to develop their own TV show. The big problem? She’s supposed to write several episodes over Christmas, even though she, her husband Neal and their two girls are supposed to spend the holidays at Neal’s parents house in Omaha. With Neal and the children taking off without her, Georgie becomes more and more depressed, even though all her career dreams seem to be coming true. Missing her family and trying to figure out the state of her marriage, Georgie finds herself spending more and more time at her mother’s house, in her old room to be more precise, and on the phone with a Neal from the past, a magic landline finally letting her hear what’s important and what’s not.
Oh. My. God. Let me compare this book to a bathtub overflowing with hot water, because that’s a very fitting comparison to what Rowell’s writing does to you. The bathtub is, naturally, you, the reader, and the overflowing hot water, naturally, all the feels bubbling up from inside you and cleansing you from within and making you feel warm and safe and happy, happy, happy. I believe that if everybody had his or her own Rainbow Rowell, this world would be a better place – a perfect place, even. I am always in awe and speechless over how Rowell uses words and makes them so full of life. In spite of the book’s rather short story, there’s so much in between the lines, it’s breath-taking. I can’t really find words to describe this properly, but once you start reading and emerge yourself in Rowell’s writing, you will understand. There’s no judging Rowell’s characters, despite their many faults, and struggles, and for a writer to evoke so much empathy and love in a reader is truly a phenomenal and exceptional talent. And God, her characters are just to-die-for. If I ever find a man like Neal, I know I will be content with life. He was the heart away from the story for me, because there’s more of past-Neal than there is of now-Neal, but damn. I have literally no words adequate to describe him and the girls. All the meowing (READ THE BOOK AND YOU WILL JOIN ME IN MY OUTBURST OF FEELS) had me burst with love for these fictional characters and their lives. Georgie’s struggle to be a good mom and a successful writer was so relatable – and I’m only 23 and not even close to having kids in the future, and seriously, if a writer manages to have me walk in the shoes of a character in such an authentic way, holy mother of writing Gods, it’s epic. The supporting characters – the mother and step-father and sister and pugs – were heart-warming parts of the story to a point where I couldn’t stop blushing. And the best part about this book is that yes, you will cry, you will laugh, you will burst with every feeling possible, but at the end of it, once you’ve read the last page, you will feel like you’ve just been part of something greater than yourself. Books like this make me, for a moment, believe in a God, or at least a higher power, because so much beauty and so much truth in a small book like Landline cannot possibly be anything but the manifestation of life and love and above all, the universe. Thank you, Rainbow, for this little piece of the universe, this little piece of magic.