This past week, I plowed through two *very* different books. One was written for adults, the other for teenagers. One was (mostly) realistic, the other the height of urban fantasy. One was fairly concise—I read it in a single evening—and the other was more than 700 pages long. And, um, only one counted toward my Summer Reading Challenge goals.
So we’ll start there. I read Rainbow Rowell’s Landline as my non-YA book because, well, I love her work, and I couldn’t wait to read this one—which came out in early July—and that’s where it fit on the bingo board. And it did not disappoint! Landline is about a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Georgie knows things aren’t good between her and her husband, Neal, but she doesn’t know how to fix them. When she gets a great career opportunity that happens to conflict with a long-planned trip to see Neal’s family for Christmas, she chooses her job—and Neal takes their daughters to Omaha without her.
And then she can’t reach him. At all. He either doesn’t pick up when she calls, or he’s just stepped out, or it goes straight to voicemail. Wracked with guilt as the days pass, she finally gets through on the landline, calling from her old bedroom at her mom’s house to his parents’ home phone. The catch: the Neal that answers the landline is Neal from 15 years ago, right after the first time they almost split up. What I loved about this story is that it isn’t really about the supernatural element at all. It’s about the relationship between two people who have lost each other and want to find each other again. In speaking to past-Neal, Georgie remembers what brought them together in the first place—and realizes everything she has to lose if she doesn’t fight to get him back. But she also knows how much she’s hurt him over the years. Would it be better and kinder to save him from all of that by breaking up with him before they get married?
Truly, I can’t recommend Landline—and all of Rowell’s books—enough. Go buy them. I’ll wait.
When I finished that one, I picked up Cassandra Clare’s MASSIVE City of Heavenly Fire, the sixth and final book in The Mortal Instruments series. I raced through the first half of this series a little over a year ago, and so I was definitely excited for this last book. And it (mostly) lived up to my expectations! What I loved most was seeing all of the threads Clare introduced in TMI books one through five—and in her prequel trilogy, The Infernal Devices—come together in this finale. I love big, epic, sprawling stories where the world keeps growing, many different characters get to have their say, and small details and characters that were introduced in book two or a prequel become important players in the plot later on. Clare does that well, and it’s what will most likely make me pick up her next series. (Especially since she basically set up the premise for the next set of books at the end of this one!) Are The Mortal Instruments books great literature? Nope. Do the characters sometimes behave in truly frustrating and irrational ways? Yup. But they’re pretty addictive books nonetheless.
Now I’ve started Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, which will be my Summer Reading Challenge memoir. More on that next week…