Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

From acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell comes Landline, a new novel about an estranged couple and the magic phone that reconnects them at a critical point in their relationship.  Rainbow Rowell is famous for her earlier young adult fiction, Fangirl and the greatly beloved Eleanor & Park.

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? @Goodreads - @Amazon
Pros: Cute cover!
Cons: Everything else.

It's not that Landline was a bad read; it just wasn't great. I went into this thinking that it was going to another epic, soul-punching romance like Eleanor & Park. It wasn't. The idea of the novel was cute -- a magical telephone that connects an unhappily married couple -- but the execution left much to be desired. First and foremost, the protagonist's name: Georgie McCool. That name mcsucks. It fits the cheesy theme of the novel, however.

Georgie herself did nothing for me, nor did any other character in the book. Neal, the husband, a short, fat guy, really did nothing for me, and I found myself rooting against their marriage. In the flashbacks prior to when Neal and Georgie married, when they were supposedly in love, they had no chemistry. Their relationship just never felt right.

Georgie and Neal have kids, but they are hardly worth mentioning. Neal is a stay-at-home dad while Georgie writes for TV sitcoms -- think Liz Lemon, but without the personality. Throughout the duration of the novel, the children are with Neal visiting relatives for Christmas, and Georgie hardly ever gives them a thought.

So blah blah blah, Georgie finds a magic phone that allows her present day self to talk to Neal before they got married, when they were in a big fight. Blah blah blah, Georgie has to make a decision: Now that she knows her marriage is shit, should she break up with Neal in the past so that they never get married?!

....No mother would ever consider a choice like that if she was given the option. Neal wasn't abusive physically or emotionally; he was unhappy because Georgie worked insane hours, never got time off, and he had to raise the kids pretty much exclusively. Georgie, on the other hand, was content aside from the fact that she knew Neal was unhappy. So for her to give any thought to breaking up with Neal in the past and thus not having kids with him is far-fetched and ridiculous.

I realize this novel is about a magic phone, which is far-fetched and ridiculous in itself, but that should have been the only thing far-fetched and ridiculous in the novel.  That way the reader could connect to it somehow, someway.  In theory.

The majority of my issues with this novel were due to Georgie and her utter lack of emotion towards her children.  It wasn't realistic, and really makes me think that Rainbow Rowell has never had children, because she does not appear to understand the type of bond a mother has with her child.  Not even close.  Because of this, I felt that Landline read more like a young adult novel, because young adults would be less apt to be bothered over the lack of a mother-child bond than say... a woman that has had a child.

Do Georgie and Neal end up staying together?  Who cares.  Read Eleanor & Park instead.


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