My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I rather love Rainbow Rowell. I love the graceful quirks of her characters, and the way her literature is resolutely of itself. There is a palpable Rowell-ness (?) about her work, and I am falling in love with it more with every book I read. So I wondered about how to review Landline, bearing in mind that I mainly review children’s literature, and I realised that it is authors like Rowell who are perfect for that moment when you’re shifting from ‘children’s’ books through to adult. The whole concept of children’s vs adults is something that I’m not going to go into here, but suffice to say that she is one of those authors who I think you will grow with as you grow, and you will come back to her work with fresh eyes and renewed love, depending on where you are in your life and what is happening to you.
And so we come to Landline, a book which is defiantly truthful and halted and pained, in parts, but full of a sort of stubborn beauty and faith and love in love itself, and I think it is something quite gorgeous. It took me a long time to slide into it, for I think I was after something like the fervent joy I experienced with Fangirl, but when I did find myself in Landline, I was rooted into it and I was slowly, and inexorably knotted into the painful and deep layers of Landline.
So what is Landline itself? It is a book for adults, a more adult audience than before, but a book I think also for those on the cusp of adulthood, searching to find themselves and understand who they are, and for anyone, really, who is trying to figure that out. It is a book about relationships, about people, and about love, quite vividly so, and it is a book about figuring out what you want, I think, and how you get that. And it is a book about being shattered and being remade, which is, maybe something that all of us experience, teenagers, adults, children alike.
I like Landline. I like Rowell. I like what she does. I like her identity and I like the thickness of her text, the way she lets the story form around her characters simply through letting them exist and be. There’s a part of me that suspects the Landline might get compartmentalised under genre labels, and I am reluctant to label it as chick-lit, or YA, or adult, or whatever, really, when it comes down to it. I think I will label Landline as story, resolute and beautiful and painful story. And I will label myself as a Rowell fan.