Friday, November 7, 2014
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
If you like: chatting all night * cool t-shirts * love
In Landline, Georgie McCool has the opportunity of a lifetime when she learns there is interest in her pilot script, but she and her writing partner must come up with more scripts to deliver right after Christmas. Georgie loves her family, but her relationship is already strained. Her husband, Neil, leaves with their girls to stay with his mother for Christmas, as planned. Georgie balances trying to work and trying to figure out what is going on in her marriage and life. When she crashes in her childhood bedroom at her mother’s so she won’t be alone for the week, she discovers a way to talk and connect with Neil that she never imagined.
The struggle to find work-life balance that Georgie faces is all too common. Balancing her love of her work with her love of her family is especially hard when working in a demanding field. Having a passion means that staying late doesn’t feel like a problem. It isn’t that she doesn't want to be with her family, she just really loves doing her job. Georgie is not ecstatic about her current work situation, but the potential to write for her own show is enough to push her to follow her dream. She cannot pass up a chance to do what she has always dreamed, even though it leads to her nightmare -- missing Christmas with her family. Having a quiet spouse who never expresses himself and his true feelings makes it even harder for Georgie to know where she stands. She knows herself, but when others doubt her strength and fidelity it makes it hard to show them that she is right. When everyone is expecting you to fail at one aspect of your life or another it is almost irresistible to give in and let them be right. Georgie does not want to give in; she wants to prove that her passion and strength can bridge the gap between her two loves.
In the midst of the struggle between life and work, Georgie forms a magical link to the past where she verbally time travels and communicates with Neil in a different time, but only when she calls him from the landline phone of her youth. She wonders if she is changing the past, or fulfilling what already did happen. When something as strange as a magical landline comes into your life, you can't help but feel crazy, while latching onto that crazy and hoping it will carry you though. Feeling the love of the past without years of life and arguments surrounding it is refreshing; it may be selfish to take advantage of it and take a vacation to the past, but it is just what Georgie needs. She does worry that what she says could unravel her own life, and have consequences she can’t foresee. Eventually, she realizes she just needs to speak the truth, and hope that it is enough. Choosing the right words to influence her past and lead to the future that she loves is hard. There is no way to know if she has free will, or is predestined to say what Neil heard back in the past. The past and the future coming together can change both for the better, or they can be two fixed points that have already happened, and always will happen. Love means going along for the ride and not caring where a magical landline will bring you, as long as the one you love is on the other end of the line.
If you couldn’t stop talking on a phone to the past, read Landline.
Rowell, Rainbow. Landline. St. Martin's Press, 2014. Kindle edition.