Title: Normal People
Author: Sally Rooney
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Librarian’s note: An alternate cover edition can be found here
At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping 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 in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, 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.
Review: This was a great, completely unsatisfying read.
So this post is late. It should have gone out this morning. But I just, my thoughts and feelings about this book are so muddy and confusing. Like I really liked this book, but it was also one of the most unsatisfying endings I’ve ever read? I just can’t work out how I feel about it. So if this review seems all over the place, it’s because it is and I just can’t organize my thoughts.
When I first started this book the format really struck me. It’s not often I read a book devoid of quotation marks. But it was a really effective story telling choice and I think the lack of quotation marks really added a lot to the atmosphere of the book. It made it seem much more real to me and I don’t think I would have related to this book in quite the same way if quotation marks had been used. I felt like I connected with the two main characters in a unique way and this connection made it almost impossible to put the book down. It took me three months to read this book, but I read it in two sittings. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop and that almost never happens with me and books.
I also enjoyed the characters we meet and it was really interesting to watch the relationship the main characters have outside of each other develop. I felt like Rooney painted a vivid picture of the types of people you can meet in high school, college and beyond. I saw a lot of people I know in these pages, for better or worse, and I really enjoyed watching all of the relationships play out.
And for me the best, and worst, thing about this book is the ending. No spoilers I promise. I just, that ending was so unsatisfying and so perfect. I can’t imagine it ending any other way but I hated it at the same time. It was very real and frustrating and I want to know what happens next, but I’m thankful that I don’t know at the same time. I can see why it was picked up by Hulu. I also am curios to see if they end the show the same way as the book or not. I’m not sure if I’d like the same ending, or a different one.
I don’t know anyone else who’s read this one so if anyone has and wants to chat please feel free to send me a message here or over on Instagram or Twitter!