As of now, I have read all four Rainbow Rowell books. Instead of four different reviews, here are my thoughts on each of her books.
I seriously adored this book. I saw so much of who I am in Cath, it almost hurt. (Except for the fact that I’ve never written Fan Fiction). Cath is the quiet one, the introvert, the lover of words and the worlds they create. She wants to be challenged, but doesn’t want to get too far out of her comfort zone. She worries about her sister and her father. She wants to fall in love, but gets her heart stomped on in the process. She loves the world of Simon Snow so much and has such a following there that she doesn’t know how to find her own story. She is smart, but insecure in her intelligence. She is the feeler, the girl who wants to make everything right. She is me, in literary form.
Fangirl is such a great book. I am sure I’m not the only one who wants Rainbow to go ahead and write the Simon Snow books, too (yes, I see the blatant comparison to Harry Potter, but still). Fangirl is about finding yourself the first time you’re away from everything that used to keep you grounded. It’s about growing up, but not too fast. It’s about letting yourself be loved and loving in return. It’s about first heartbreaks, recovering from bad choices, and discovering your place in the story. It’s about the power of friendship and the moment that you really see the person who has been standing in front of you the whole time. It’s about expectations and reality. It’s about life.
Eleanor & Park
If I could count the number of people who told me to read this book…well, it would be a lot. I know it’s the book that brought Rainbow Rowell into the forefront of everyone’s imaginations. It’s a poignant love story about two misfits who find each other – and find out who they really are in the process. This is most people’s favorite Rowell, but I think my friends are right – the first one of her books you read is your favorite (for me, that’s Fangirl.)
Eleanor has a horrible home life, and a not much better school life. Park comes from a solid, if somewhat odd family. Neither of them are popular. Neither of them are part of the in crowd. But, over a shared love of comic books, mix tapes and the somewhat odd, they find each other. Their romance is sweet and tender, while being real and containing just enough angst to make their teenage selves feel real.
The “twist” at the end of the book wasn’t all that surprising, but was well written. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think the thing that bothered me the most was how Rowell wrapped up Eleanor & Park’s stories. I felt like it was out of character, and that bothered me.
Rainbow Rowell doesn’t just write for teens; she’s also released two adult books. Attachments is about an unlikely office romance; Lincoln was hired by a local paper to monitor email as it first becomes popular. The powers that be are worried that people will misuse the technology, which is probably a valid concern. Instead of addressing the issue head-on, they hire Lincoln to flag, read and reprimand anyone who uses the office email inappropriately.
Beth and Jennifer couldn’t care less. Coworkers and close friends, they use email like an instant messaging service, revealing the highs and lows of their lives to each other in written form.
Attachments is written mostly in email correspondence, especially with Beth & Jennifer. Lincoln’s story is told through “traditional” writing styles. I loved the creative use of style, though it’s not the first time I’ve seen it used. It’s a fun, different way to tell the story. However, it leads to three narrators in some ways, which confused me at times. I had to keep jumping back to see if it was Beth talking to Jennifer or vice versa. At one point, I had their story lines completely mixed up!
Attachments is an easy, fast read. It’s a cute story of relationships, falling in lust, falling in love, and trying to make life work. You learn about people in ways that you wouldn’t normally learn because of the use of multiple narrators. Overall, an easy summer beach read.
Landline is the newest addition to Rowell’s catalog. In this book, another adult work, Georgie is a hot sitcom writer on the verge of finally having her dream show picked up. However, it’s Christmas and to make deadline, she can no longer go back to her husband’s home in Omaha with their two girls. Georgie stays behind while Neal and the girls leave, setting a spiral of strange happenings in motion.
Tired, frustrated and alone, Georgie finds herself in her old room at her mom’s house. Since her cell phone battery keeps dying, she pulls out the old landline, plugs it in, and calls Neal. But, the Neal she’s talking to is not her husband – yet. It’s Neal from the past, during a week when Georgie thought Neal was going to leave her for good.
As Georgie struggles to come to grips with what’s happening in her world, she goes through a hilarious list of potential things that could be happening – including having a magic phone that calls the past. That scene is one of my favorite in any Rowell book.
Landline is a fun, quick read. I enjoyed it, but I felt like there were too many characters vying for my attention. At the core, it is about Georgie and Neal and whether or not their marriage will survive a Christmas apart. But the story is cluttered with co-workers, family (both dead and alive), new loves, random circumstances, and even one too many dogs for my taste (and I’m a dog lover). If you eliminate all the “extra” stuff, the story between Georgie and Neal feels like it takes up barely half the book. I could have done with less of the other stuff and more of Georgie and Neal discovering the magic phone and what it could do to change their lives.