#BookTok, Book Reviews

Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

“Most people go through their whole lives, without ever really feeling that close with anyone.”

Image: book cover with blue sky background (Julia dath)

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I know that I am late to the game with Normal People. It is one of those books that I refused to buy because I knew somebody in my life could lend me a copy. On family vacation I finally had the chance to read it. The story really flew by.

Marianne and Connell come from the same Irish small town but very different backgrounds. Marianne is unpopular and comes from an affluent family. Connell is well liked in the community and a star on the soccer team. His mother has a housekeeping jb at Marianne’s house. When a connection forms between the two teenagers, Connell is desperate to keep it hidden from everyone.

Later, Marianne and Connell are both studying at Trinity College Dublin. Their social lives have transformed, and although they live drastically different experiences, Connell and Marianne can’t help but be drawn to one another in this new life. But is there any way forward for two people with such a complicated history?

This book emulates what real life relationships can be like — frustrating. About halfway through Normal People you’ll ask yourself how it is possible for two people who like each other to so horribly miscommunicate this many times. At least I did. Then I thought about the last twenty years of my life and realized, oh, yeah, it really is like that. People are afraid to say what they mean. People are proud. People are defensive. This is just how we are.

I spent half this book hating how realistic the relationship between the characters felt and the other half respecting the hell out of Sally Rooney for writing something that captured the difficult trials we all navigate in our personal lives. As I continued to read, my appreciation for the story grew. I felt for these characters who were sometimes getting in their own ways. I wanted them to find a way through it.

Class is a big player in this book. So many times you’ll want to wave in front of Marianne’s face and get her to understand the privileges she so easily has. But at the same time, you’ll want to kick Connell for being so constantly worried about what others think of him when Marianne is right there. They’re both incredibly flawed — and because of it, very real — characters on their own journey.

The writing style is very frank, and Rooney famously does not use any sort of punctuation to signal when she is moving into dialogue. Honestly, you’ll get over this choice or you won’t. I think Normal People will be polarizing for many readers. Some will love its honesty, while others will be lost in the frustrations of repeated miscommunications.

5 thoughts on “Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney”

  1. Just finished reading it, I was influenced by #booktok & got curious about the plot. My entire read I felt frustrated. It reflects the feeling of what a situationship feels like really. HAHA


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