You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there. You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten - in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.
She didn't know at twenty-three.
-from Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Landline is the story of Georgie McCool, a Los Angeles based television writer and wife of Neal, her stay-at-home-dad husband. Georgie tends to take Neal for granted and put her own needs and dreams in front of his. She's not mean, bad or vindictive, she just is really driven toward her dreams. But when Georgie bails on their Christmas visit to Neal's family in Omaha because her dream television show might get picked up, Neal goes without her and leaves Georgie alone in Los Angeles to consider her real priorities. When Georgie stays the night in her childhood home, she rediscovers her old landline phone and calls Neal. What she discovers is a portal into the past through a telephone connection with Neal before he asked her to marry him.
I didn't actually read the full synopsis before I started reading this book, so when I got to the part about the magic phone I was like, "What kind of a book is this?!" I was surprised to find this magical element involved in a pretty realistic contemporary, but I trusted Rainbow Rowell and she didn't disappoint. Georgie's internal struggle between the grey area of what's "right" is such a strong part of this book. The people we love the most are who we take for granted most of the time, so I never really saw Georgie as being bad for not going to Omaha. But I was also able to relate to Neal and why he was so upset. I actually struggled between whether or not I liked Neal through most of the book, but I also enjoy how Rowell makes her characters so complex. True to form, Rowell doesn't just color in her main characters but crafts supporting characters just as vibrantly. Georgie's ridiculous mother, from her over-the-top love of pugs to her bedazzled yoga pants, was one of my favorites. I really enjoyed the complexities of Georgie's whole family dynamic.
What I didn't love about this book is that at times it seemed to be meandering a little bit. I almost got bored with Georgie's calls to Neal from the past, but fortunately Rowell would pick up the pace just when I was feeling this way. Similarly, I wasn't completely fulfilled by Georgie's best friend, Seth. I thought he was a great addition to the dynamic of Georgie's story, but I didn't feel satisfied by his presence the way I think Rowell aimed for me to feel. Neither of these things ruined the story, but maybe stalled the experience for me a little bit.
As a newly-married woman (WHAT?!) I think this book is an important story to read upon starting a marriage and maybe during the same season of marriage as Georgie. Much like What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, I think it helps the reader reconsider the start of their own love story and evaluate the things that have happened between now and then to bring you where you are.
Bottom Line: Soak it in like every other Rainbow Rowell book! Great characters, great message and a little bit of magic! Highly recommended for anyone who is married, getting married, or in a seriously long-term relationship. 4.5/5 Stars.