Rowell's books have several things in common: a Nesbraskan/midwestern setting, impossibly witty dialogue, frustrated love, pop culture. But some are set in the present day, some set in the recent past, some are YA, some adult.
So if you're new to Rowell, here's your guide to her books.
Eleanor & Park - the first Rowell title I read. And yes, I picked it up just because it had Eleanor in the title. Set in the 80s, featuring the star-crossed love of the teenagers Park and Eleanor. Eleanor's family is royally screwed up (some trigger warnings here...), and Park is half-Asian, making him unusual in Omaha. Lots of references to 80s movies and comic books. Tragic, profane, bittersweet, and the July selection for the YABMC. E&P has gotten a lot of hype, and it mostly deserves it. (I do have a slight beef with part of the ending, but I don't want to spoil it, so I won't be specific.)
Landline - I won a copy of this audiobook on a blog. (I don't even remember which one!) and Rebecca Lowman does an excellent job narrating. Georgie McCool is a writer for a popular tv comedy, but her marriage is unraveling. Her husband Neal has taken their girls back to Nebraska for Christmas while Georgie stayed in Los Angeles to work. She tries to call Neal from the landline in her mom's house, and somehow magically calls the Neal of 15 years ago. She spends countless hours talking to young-Neal, trying to figure out where she and now-Neal went wrong. Oddly enthralling - made me imagine talking to the Noel of 10 years ago (since I didn't actually know him 15 years ago...).
Fangirl - I also listened to this one, and loved it so much that as soon as it was over I started it again. Which I have never, ever done before. Somehow the story of Cath, awkward college freshman and fan fiction writer, just resonated with me. Their mother left when they were 8, so Cath and her twin sister Wren survived by writing Simon Snow fanfiction. (Simon Snow is very Harry Potter-esque). Cath's relationships with Wren, her roommate, and her roommate's cute boyfriend, are very evocative of those complicated early years of freedom. [Sidenote: Rowell's new book, which comes out fall 2015 is called "Carry On". Which is AWESOME because in Fangirl, the fan-book that Cath is writing about Simon Snow is called Carry On. Yep, Rowell wrote her own fanfiction!]
Attachments - I waited and waited for the e-book of this one from the library, and finally got it on Thursday! And I was done by Friday. (Because I'm not very good at savoring yet.) Lincoln, the socially awkward internet security guy whose job it is to monitor company emails, finds himself obsessing over the exchanges of two friends - Beth and Jennifer. Then Lincoln realizes he's actually in love with one of them... but how can he tell her since he's been secretly reading her emails for months? I don't think this one would work well on audio, since it's about 80% emails, and it could be confusing when read aloud. It was really sweet though - and the 1999 setting was so fun. One of the girls is a film critic, so she's always referencing then-popular movies, and Lincoln and his boss were all stressed out about Y2K. Cracks me up.
There you have it! My guide to Rainbow Rowell. I think if I had to rank them from favorite to least favorite I'd say Fangirl, Attachments, Eleanor & Park, and Landline. But I still gave Landline 4 out of 5 stars... so it's not like it's bad!
What's your favorite Rowell title?
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