I am a proud lover of Young Adult fiction, so I am quite familiar with Rainbow Rowell’s writing within this genre. Landline, however, makes its debut in Adult fiction. While I am a big fan of Rowell’s other novels, I was still hesitant to read Landline because sometimes authors do not make the transition in or out of YA fiction well. Well, let me just say, Rowell’s transition was smoother than butter.
Landline is probably my most favourite novel of Rowell’s. Before I get started on telling you why, let me tell you this: the main character’s name is Georgie McCool. Georgie McCool! People with difficult last names like mine, dream for a last name like Georgie’s. The best thing about her last name is that it totally fits with Georgie’s character.
Georgie is in her late 30’s working as a comedic writer for a popular TV show in L.A. She is also married to Neal, her very selfless, deeply in love husband to whom she has two children with. It’s just about Christmas when Georgie and her career-long writing partner get the offer of a lifetime. Georgie has to choose between furiously writing pilot episodes for the show of her dreams (that are due right before Christmas) or going to Omaha to visit her in-laws for Christmas with Neal and the kids. Her choice to stay and write leaves her and her husband on rocky terms, which isn’t out of the norm for Georgie and Neal, but she wonders at this point if maybe this career-driven decision has asked too much of her husband.
When Georgie calls Neal the night after he leaves, she discovers that her yellow landline telephone acts as a way to communicate with Neal in the past. By speaking with past Neal, Georgie becomes reflexive about her history with him and realizes how much Neal really does for her. Maybe Neal would be better off without her if they hadn’t gotten married? Georgie has to decide whether she wants to fix the relationship she has with Neal or to tell past Neal to forget about her in hopes of offering him a happier life.
As a career-driven 20-something female I could relate with Georgie’s character very much so. While many women have already chosen to work and have a family, it is still difficult to plan the logistics of “having it all”. Georgie is a talented, ambitious woman, who spends more time at the office than at home with her family. This gender-norm defiance was something that caught my eye and made me have a personal interest in Georgie and Neal’s story. How do you balance the career that you have invested time and money into, with your family that you love to no end? Rowell successfully depicts the emotion that is attached to a personal dream and the heart-aching struggle that comes with having to/or being forced to choose between what really matters. I’ll leave the rest of story for you to read, but it does beg the question: Can women (and men) really have it all?
Here are some great reads from women who offer an opinion on the question:
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Written by: Sheryl Sandberg
Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, common sense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto. In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.” She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home. Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.
Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink
Written by: Katrina Alcorn
Reveals the dark side of modern family life, with relevant advice for other struggling parents Winner of a Foreword IndieFab Book of the Year Award Katrina Alcorn was a 37-year-old mother with a happy marriage and a thriving career when one day, on the way to Target to buy diapers, she had a breakdown. Her carefully built career shuddered to a halt, and her journey through depression, anxiety, and insomnia-followed by medication, meditation, and therapy-began. Alcorn wondered how a woman like herself, with a loving husband, a supportive boss, three healthy kids, and a good income, was unable to manage the demands of having a career and a family. Over time, she realized that she wasn’t alone; many women were struggling to do it all-and feeling as if they were somehow failing as a result. Mothers are the breadwinners in two-thirds of American families, yet the American workplace is uniquely hostile to the needs of parents. Weaving in surprising research about the dysfunction between the careers and home lives of working mothers, as well as the consequences to women’s health, Alcorn tells a deeply personal story about “having it all,” failing miserably, and what comes after. Ultimately, she offers readers a vision for a healthier, happier, and more productive way to live and work.
All Joy and No Fun
Written by: Jennifer Senior
“All Joy and No Fun is an indispensable map for a journey that most of us take without one. Brilliant, funny, and brimming with insight, this is an important book that every parent should read, and then read again. Jennifer Senior is surely one of the best writers on the planet.”-Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness In All Joy and No Fun, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior isolates and analyzes the many ways in which children reshape their parents’ lives, whether it’s their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today’s mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear. Recruiting from a wide variety of sources-in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology-she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. The result is an unforgettable series of family portraits, starting with parents of young children and progressing to parents of teens. Through lively and accessible storytelling, Senior follows these mothers and fathers as they wrestle with some of parenthood’s deepest vexations-and luxuriate in some of its finest rewards. Meticulously researched yet imbued with emotional intelligence, All Joy and No Fun makes us reconsider some of our culture’s most basic beliefs about parenthood, all while illuminating the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to our lives. By focusing on parenthood, rather than parenting, the book is original and essential reading for mothers