Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Reading Landline by Rainbow Rowell made me long for the old-fashioned landline phone – for the days when a phone fit your hand perfectly and your ear with the warmth of the voice at the other end, for the excitement a phone ringing and not knowing who was calling.

Landline is a unique story about a marriage and a landline telephone with a time travel element. One person has been in the marriage for fourteen years, while the other hasn't yet proposed. It's about the wonderful and complicated moments of falling in love, being in love, and the complexities of marriage, work, and children. While it may sound a bit like The Time Traveler's Wife, it couldn't be more different.

Georgie McCool — yes, that's her real name — is a successful TV sitcom writer. She and her writing partner have landed the perfect opportunity and have about a week to pull together four episodes for a meeting with the executive at their dream network. The week falls during the Christmas holiday and Georgie decides she needs to stay home to work instead of heading to Omaha with her husband Neal and two daughters. Once again Georgie's career takes priority.

Her mother insists she come over for dinner the first night Neal is gone. Has Neal become fed up and left for good? She can't stand the thought of going home to her house alone and stays at her mother's house. She finds an antique yellow rotary phone in her childhood bedroom closet, and plugs the phone in to give Neal a call. He sounds different and over a few phone calls Georgie begins to realize that landline-Neal is in 1998. She realizes this may be her chance to save her marriage. Humor and flashbacks to their early relationship help Georgie with the struggle of talking to Neal without ruining their future together. Landline-Neal doesn't know how she's screwed up.

While I was reading Landline both times, I couldn't help but recall the days of lying in bed or on the couch talking late into the night with a boyfriend. Those late nights when all that mattered was that time on the phone, and it was worth losing sleep and waking up groggy the next morning. The warmth and closeness of someone's voice on a landline is lost with cell phones. Now there is the delay or tunnel sound to deal with and the nights of long conversations have moved into short conversations or conversations over text. I wonder how teens and twenty-somethings fall in love now without those long heart-to-heart conversations over the phone?

Rowell's fans of Eleanor & Park and her earlier book Attachments will fall in love with Georgie and cheer for her and Neal. I've determined that Rowell's books are dangerous to my sleep, because each of her four books have kept me up way past my bedtime reading.

About the Author

Erica Voell

Erica Voell is the Youth Collection Development Librarian at the Kansas City Public Library. She enjoys gardening, sewing, knitting, seeking out gluten-free vegetarian cuisine around the city - and yes, being a good librarian, she is owned by a cat.

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