Sunday, July 13, 2014


By: Rainbow Rowell
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 besides the point now. Maybe that was always besides 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?

There are things about this book that might prevent an 18 year-old who has never been in a committed relationship from connecting with its story. This book is about married people, and I'm not married. This book is about the concessions of adulthood, and I've been an "adult" for less than 6 months. This book is contemporary, and as we've established, I typically don't connect with contemporary.
Yet Rainbow Rowell has overcome all of that and made me feel this book deeply. I was invested in this story emotionally, because I understood what these characters felt on a more specific level, even if I couldn't fully understand their emotional position from a place of experience.

Georgie McCool (which really is the coolest character name) is yet another fantastically drawn character that has been created by Rainbow Rowell. Though she was more of a challenge for me, as one of she was a harder character for me to relate to, the work was absolutely worth it. I've never experienced motherhood, but through Georgie, I found a way to understand it. Through her, I felt a life of mixed concession and boldness.

And the other characters were believable, too. Neal felt like a person, not just a love interest (Which is also something Rainbow Rowell does especially well). He had his own issues to work through, and he had his own, independent flaws. But, most of all, he was a great guy, and a kind and caring person.

The girls were adorable, Noomi most of all. They were characters in their own rights, even though they showed up less often than the others in reality. Mostly they were in Georgie's thoughts and in her motive.

Speaking of which, another aspect that Rainbow Rowell is excellent at: Motive.

Motive is something that a book with a magic freaking phone has to nail, it just has to. The book has to make you understand and then believe why this person is indulging a magic, time-machine-like phone. But I believed Georgie's motive 100% of the time. It worked well with her character and always with her position within the plot.

Now we come to one of my favorite things about Rainbow Rowell books. Her narratives naturally debunk classic literary romantic presuppositions. In Eleanor and Park she did it in showing that young love is important. In Attachments she did it in showing that your soulmate won't solve every problem for you, you have to figure out your life for yourself. In Fangirl she did it in showing that the happy, caring guy is usually the best for you and that you won't have to change for him. In Landline she did it in showing that you're not going to be perfect for the person you spend the rest of your life with, and they're not going to be perfect for you, but if they make your life bearable, If they help you breath, then it's worth the work.

I loved this book, but as this is a review I think it's necessary for me to give my single complaint about this book, something I feel about all of Rainbow Rowell's books. This isn't a critique, it isn't even something I'd necessarily change, but I wish there was more of this book. The ending is a bit abrupt. Satisfying? Definitely. But still pretty abrupt.

This book is wonderful and I absolutely loved it. Most of all, I can't wait to reread it as an adult, and possibly as a married person. I know it'll mean just as much (if not more) to me in the future.


"Georgie had never thought she'd be old enough to talk about life in big decade-long chunks like this. It's not that she'd thought she was going to die before now - she just never imagined it would feel this way. The heaviness of the proportions...It felt like too much. Not too much to have, just too much to contemplate. Commitments like boulders that were too heavy to carry."

"Neal didn't take Georgie's breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay - that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air."

"This was how Georgie had ruined everything. By being really good at something. By being really good with someone. By retreating into the part of her life that was easiest."

"You don't know when you're twenty-three. 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...She didn't know at twenty-three. That day, out on the patio, it just felt like the biggest day of her life so far, not the biggest day of her life from now on. Not the day that would change everything. That would change her, at a cellular level. Like a virus that rewrites your DNA."

"Even if your heart is broken and attacking you, you're still not better off without it."

"That's what Georgie did to him. She pulled the blood to the surface of his skin. She acted on him. Tidally. She made him feel like things were happening. Like life was happening - and even if he was miserable sometimes, he wasn't going to sleep through it."

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