Normal People by Sally Rooney
“At school, Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.
A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.”
I was very intrigued to read Normal People by Sally Rooney as I have heard such varying responses from the book community. I have not read any of Rooney’s writing previously, so her storytelling style was totally new for me. Normal People is a character study and definitely isn’t plot driven so if you are looking for a fast-paced read this might not be the right fit. We meet Marianne and Connell and follow them through adolescence and into early adulthood.
This reads a bit like a YA novel but it is quite deep and while I can’t say that I enjoyed reading it, I did get a lot out of it. I appreciate that Rooney was able to able to take on such important topics like class, social status and mental health issues which all played into the relationship between these two main characters in so many different ways. It is an awkward and depressing novel but it also caused me to do a lot of reflection as the reader.
While I can’t say that I loved this book, I am glad I read it and I applaud Rooney for writing a book that covered so many uncomfortable yet powerful topics while not using them to “hype up” her storytelling. Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.