“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.
“Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.
Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle-class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.
As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.
With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.”
Queenie took some time for me to get into because after reading the book summary, I was thinking this was going to be a lighter read. It ended up being quite heavy and covered quite a few issues that made this one quite a lot deeper than I initially expected. I was so happy to see that mental health, unhealthy relationships, feminism, and race issues were discussed openly and with great detail.
I struggled a bit with being frustrated with Queenie and some of her choices regarding men and dating but that was my own reaction. Queen seems like a relatable read for someone in their 20s as it is a coming of age story and Queenie learns a lot through trial and error. I enjoyed seeing her process to self-love and although I could not relate to all of it I think this will be a hit with a lot of readers. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
“The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.”
“I sometimes feel like my head is a computer with too many windows open. Too much clutter on the desktop. There is a metaphorical spinning rainbow wheel inside me. Disabling me. And if only I could find a way to switch off some of the frames, if only I could drag some of the clutter into the trash, then I would be fine. But which frame would I choose, when they all seem so essential? How can I stop my mind from being overloaded when the world is overloaded? We can think about anything. And so it makes sense that we end up thinking about everything. We might have to, sometimes, be brave enough to switch the screens off in order to switch ourselves back on. To disconnect in order to reconnect.” ― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
This book was my first by Matt Haig and I found it very engaging. I love how he normalizes mental health issues but also asks such thought-provoking questions within his writing. I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and devoured the short chapters which led to very interesting conversations with my friend who also was reading the book at the same time.
The chapters are short and quick and so it is a book that is easy to take in a little at a time. I love the importance he places on true connection with each other. Some of it was a little “out there” but I do agree that technology has changed the ways we interact and connect with one another and he had some powerful reminders and perspective about this.