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Michele Jacobsen

Just an essay kind of girl living in a TL;DR world.

Oh dear....

Landline - Rainbow Rowell

I am going to admit - up front - that I am a huge, huge Rainbow Rowell fan. I have adored every word this woman has written and have often said that I'd give her grocery list 5 stars. So it probably goes without saying that I was thrilled to get my mitts on an early copy of her new book LANDLINE. I've been looking forward to this for months and dropped every other book I was reading the moment I tore open the envelope.


It was, therefore, a rather shocking and horrible moment when, as I turned the final page of the book, I finally had to admit to myself that I did not care for this story at all. In fact, I vacillated for a while between not caring for the story and actively disliking the story....I finally decided to error on the side of caution and go with not caring for it.


What on earth could have caused me to give a Rainbow Rowell novel three stars? On the surface, we have a good little story: Georgie McCool is a working married mother of two whose fourteen year marriage to Neal is going through a bit of a rough spot, as all marriages do from time to time. As a television script writer and sole provider for her family, Georgie works a lot of long hours and this has put some pressure on her marriage. But when the opportunity she has been working her entire career for - a shot at writing her own show - comes up, Georgie will need to work over Christmas and miss the annual family trip to her in-laws house in Nebraska. And her husband, Neal, is most assuredly not happy about this.


So Neal agrees to take the family to Nebraska without her. Apparently, though, he doesn't mention to Georgie that he might - or might not - be permanently leaving her. It's hard to tell. Because he won't answer his phone or talk to her.


At this point some magical realism enters the story in the form of an old yellow rotary phone, etc and so on (no spoilers here) and Georgie has some decisions to make.


So - back to my three stars. I'm fully aware that LANDLINE is not Rowell's typical YA fare. It is, in fact, an adult novel. That said, I also think it's a given that millions of her YA fans will still flock to this book and I am very disturbed by the message Georgie and her marriage send to these young women readers. Neal's actions throughout the novel are tantamount to emotional blackmail. He is an unhappy man - clearly unhappy before he and Georgie even married - who demands his wife *make* him happy. Her constant subservience to his emotional blackmail sends an uncomfortable message (says this reviewer married 11 years now). 


While it is ultimately Rowell's story and her prerogative to take the story wherever she wants to go, I was so uncomfortable it that her usual cast of charming secondary characters, etc, wasn't enough to overcome this problem for me. In any event, your reaction is going to depend on your own personal opinions/experiences. So of course, you might well have a much better experience with LANDLINE than I did so I very much encourage you to read other reviews before making your purchase decision.