Audience: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 268 pages
Author: Sally Rooney
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
Connell Waldron is one of the most popular boys in his small-town high school–he is a star of the football team and an excellent student, and he is never wanting for attention from girls. The one thing he doesn’t have is money. Marianne Sheridan, a classmate of Connell’s, has the opposite problem. Marianne is plain-looking, odd, and stubborn, and while her family is quite well off, she has no friends to speak of. There is, however, a deep and undeniable connection between the two teenagers, one that develops into a secret relationship.
Everything changes when both Connell and Marianne are accepted to Trinity College. Suddenly Marianne is well liked and elegant, holding court with her intellectual friends, while Connell hangs at the sidelines, not quite as fluent in the language of the elite. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle each other, falling in and out of romance but never straying far from where they started. And as Marianne experiments with an increasingly dangerous string of boyfriends, Connell must decide how far he is willing to go to save his oldest friend.
Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a novel that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the inescapable challenges of family and friendships. Normal People is a book that you will read in one sitting, and then immediately jump up to share with your friends.
This won’t be a long review. I don’t think I really connected with this book so when I got to the last page and realized that was the end, I was so confused. How is that the end? I needed way more.
It was an interesting set-up having no quotations. At times I struggled with it, but as I got further into the book I think it really made sense for this story. It conveyed its own emotional pull in the background.
There was a lot of sadness in this book and it was hard for me to keep reading, yet at the same time, I kept flipping pages, curious to what happens next. Normal People is a depressing love story. It was deep with learning about belonging somewhere and acceptance of who someone is. I didn’t love the big miscommunications because it hurt that much more when they realized they had both made mistakes.
Some of the side characters were eh and misplaced in the story. I’m not sure they were wholly necessary as they felt thrown in to add more dimension.
At times, things were a bit to sexual (for my personal preferences) and I would skim by those. I was cheering so much for Marianne and Connell to figure things out. And I think this review is so hard to write because I’m still not sure if that happened. They both helped each other get to better places, but was everything as it should be? That will be for you to decide.
I’m a sucker for fully explained and happy endings. This is where my differences lay within the story.
Overall audience notes:
- Contemporary fiction
- Language: a bit of strong language
- Romance: kisses, detailed sex scenes, a lot of casual sex
- Violence: domestic, physical
- Trigger warnings: sexual assault, mentions of past domestic abuse, domestic abuse, bullying, suicide ideation, suicide, depression, drug use