I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl about a year and a half ago, and I loved it. I related to it so well, as I imagine many young nerd girls do. Because of this, when I was presented with the chance to read Landline, I thought I might give it a chance. I knew the premise of the book, and it didn’t sound particularly intriguing to me, but I figured anything by Rainbow Rowell couldn’t be that bad.
    It started off as a story about a woman who felt like she was losing her family for her job. It seemed that she was, in fact, losing them; they went to a different state for Christmas without her so she could finish her work. However, after a bit, she just happened to stumble across a magic phone that allowed her to speak to her husband. Fifteen years in the past. And then it got interesting.
    The love story developed from here, which was not exactly what I was expecting. It involved a lot of backstory, explaining their relationship in college. Though it wasn’t what I anticipated, I enjoyed it because it was a light and adorable love story. The parts of the book spent in the present day were less interesting, as they involved, for the most part, stories of Georgie (the protagonist) being pestered by her coworkers, making questionable choices about clothing and hygiene, and wondering what was happening with the yellow phone under her bed.
    The resolution was fairly predictable and anticlimactic. However, I did like the story because the love story was entertaining.
    My main problem with this book was that the characters were not likable. I didn’t have a problem with most of them, but none of them were really that interesting. I really didn’t like Georgie’s husband, Neal, though. He was standoffish and rude, and he wasn’t even willing to talk to Georgie in the present to try to make their marriage work. I understand that this is supposed to be a realistic marriage, and what seemed standoffish to me was supposed to be mysterious, but I just didn’t like him as a character, which made the story much less enjoyable.
    In all, it was a good story, and I expected nothing less from Rainbow Rowell. Although, the characters and some of the mundane everyday tasks made it a little boring, and there wasn’t much resolution. It was a decent book, but it wasn’t the best. I may have expected too much from it, but I thought it was an all-around average book in the end.  

What books have you read that weren’t as good as you thought they’d be because of the author?

    The first Sarah Dessen book I read was Lock and Key, and I loved it. The story was light and fun and adorable, so I knew I had to read more of her books. I read a couple of others, but when I heard about Saint Anything, I was hesitant to read it because it looked darker than her other books. However, after seeing it get such great reviews on Goodreads, I figured I should probably just read it.
    I wish I hadn’t hesitated to do so, because this book was amazing. Dessen’s other novels are cute and fun with characters you can’t help but love and storylines that start sad but ultimately make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This book did that in a whole new way. From the novels of hers that I’ve read, I’ve found that they usually follow a standard plot: girl has emotional trouble, girl meets boy that makes her happy, everything in girl’s life falls into place. This book had that plot, but it had more depth than the others.
    Rather than just finding a boy that helped her fix everything, the main character found a family and some friends that made everything seem a little better, even when it wasn’t, and eventually helped her actually make it better. The Chatham family might have been loud and messy, but their love for each other kept them together and taught Sydney what it means to listen and understand.
    Often with books whose main characters are privileged teenagers, a lower-class side of things is either glossed over or made to seem absolutely horrible. This book did neither of those things, making the family’s home seem small for the family it housed, but big enough for the love it contained.
    The story itself was very good, as it moved along nicely and was interesting. The characters, while somewhat predictable, were quirky and kept a smile on your face the entire time. The most important part of the book, though, was Sydney’s relationship with her family, specifically her brother. Throughout most of the book, her mother tried to pretend that what happened wasn’t Peyton’s fault, which put a strain on all of the relationships within the family.
    As is to be expected, it was hard for Sydney to recover from what her brother did, but with time and help from her friends, she learned that situations need to be looked at from another person’s point of view in order for them to be properly understood.
    All in all, I loved this book. It was fun and warm, but it also had more depth than most of the other novels of hers that I’ve read. It dealt with very real problems and told a good story, with characters that just make you happy. This is definitely my favorite book of hers that I’ve read so far, and I will absolutely be passing it along to all of my friends.

What books have you read recently that you loved?

    Before I got this book (from Rory over at fourthstreetreview.com), I’d never heard of it. Shocking, seeing as how it’s such a popular book, but I suppose I just didn’t know about it because I was a year old when it was published. Anyway, I went into it expecting a sad, heavy story, due to the fact something horrible clearly took place at the party mentioned in the book’s description.
    Instead, I found a sharp, honest book about a girl trying to survive high school with no friends. I loved the main character’s voice; she was sarcastic, but not overly so, and she just sounded real. Though her daily life seemed dull at times, I liked that Anderson didn’t try to make the story more interesting; she just told it for what it was, and as someone who didn’t participate in anything for a long time, that is what the life of an outcast looks like.
    This book was different from so many others with the same theme because it wasn’t dominated by those ideas. It just told the story of her life after the party, which felt more honest because it’s unlikely that she would’ve been obsessed with the party everyday, while that is the case in many books that deal with this.
    Like a lot of books set in high school, this one was fairly clique-y. I’ve never been able to relate to this, probably because my school is small and doesn’t have as many cliques as most, but some of the cliques seemed a little forced and unrealistic. Of course, this may be due to the fact that I haven’t witnessed that many cliques firsthand. I can, however, relate to being an outcast, having been one for much of my life, so I understand what she was going through.
    The characters in this book were entertaining to read about, not because they had such big personalities, but because they were realistic, which is rare in a book about high schoolers. The scenarios, while somewhat mundane, were honest and enjoyable to read about, and Melinda’s transition into someone who didn’t care at all about school was completely believable. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and wish I had read it before. The message delivered about speaking up is an important one, especially in high school, and the story of Melinda learning that lesson was honest and enjoyable.

Have you ever read a book that really resonated with you on a personal level?

    I got this book a couple of months ago from a family friend (who can be found at fourthstreetreview.com), and I was immediately excited to read it because I’d heard great things about it. However, it sat on the bottom of the pile for a bit because I had some other things I wanted to read first.
    When I finally got to it, I dove right in. In hindsight, I don’t really know what I expected, but this book hit me in a couple of different ways. Right away, it felt a little cheesy. Some of the characters mentioned seemed to be there only to fit certain high school stereotypes, but this is to be expected of most books set in high school. As I read on, I began to feel as though Hannah wasn’t a very realistic character. She was smart and eloquent, but she also didn’t seem to be nearly as bothered by some of the people she talked about as she should have been.
    The major problem I had with the book was how much it glamorized her condition, and depression in general. While it is believable that all of those people affected her, it doesn’t make sense that she should be so willing to share all of that with so many people, or that she should be able to identify the reasons so clearly. Often, the reasons behind depression are messy, while hers were clean-cut. It felt as though the lines should have blurred more. I say this as someone who has never faced depression, but the lines certainly aren’t as clear when dealing with other problems between people. Life is messy, so being able to pinpoint thirteen people that were the cause of her depression doesn’t seem like an easy task; it seems as though she would have had to disregard a lot of people and exaggerate the things the chosen people had done.
    Even though this book didn’t seem all that realistic in that respect, it did make me think about how connected we all are, and how our decisions affect each other. As is proven in this book, some of the things we say and do, seeming inconsequential at the time, can have a huge impact on someone’s life. Being in high school myself, I can attest to the fact that sometimes the things we do can have completely unintended consequences for other people. There are so many campaigns out there to stop bullying, but it isn’t always bullying that causes problems; sometimes it’s just not being there.
    While I didn’t like the glamorization of depression and suicide in this book, I did like the lesson that the main character learned. It made me think more about the effect my actions have on others, and about how easy it is to help someone (just being there is often enough). It wasn’t a fantastic book, but it did have a good lesson at the end.

What did you think of this book?