As per always, Rainbow Rowell has an unmitigated talent for stringing the right words in an order surprising, beguiling and oh.so.real.
"He kissed her like he was drawing a perfectly straight line. He kissed her in India ink."
There is something so recklessly romantic about the way she pens her tales and yet the romance is carefully set within the realistic. You can believe in these characters. You want to seep into their world and inhabit their spaces. She is also ridiculously, rambunctiously funny and witty and wise and her dialogue snaps, crackles and pops.
"Georgie, you cannot be jealous of Dawn---that's like the sun being jealous of a lightbulb."
To add, Rowell is just adept at making you ache and pine for people who would make the best of friends.
"But Neal kept rubbing his cheek into hers, and it felt so nice---all the soft and hard parts of their faces catching on each other. Cheekbone on brow. Jawbone on chin. Neal's skin was flushed and warm. His hands were holding firm. He smelled like bar soap and beer and fabric paint."
I suppose what draws me to Rowell is the realness of experience. Her words give magic to the ordinary and her deft touch colours in the lines of the commonplace. Yes, there is a lovely retreat to be found in the fantastical magic phone --- but that does little but plod the plot along. The real magic to the book is in the keen way Rowell sees relationships, paints her characters and inhabits their world with a sly, smart smirk that differentiates her from any other living writer.