What excites me about Rooney’s style of writing is just how well she can articulate thoughts and emotions. Her effortless skill to externalise in writing the nature of human relationships is deeply alluring and relatable. I loved the character-driven depth of Conversations With Friends so much so that I was especially keen to read Normal People which was recently published in August 2018. And on that note, if you try to loan it from any library in the next couple months, be prepared for an intimidatingly long queue of reservations and wait times.
In this coming-of-age novel, Connell and Marianne are estranged teenage lovers. They grew up in the same rural part of Ireland, they went to school together and attended the same college. Their strained relationship is a product of their difference in social class and popularity. Marianne’s affluent background affords her family the luxury of having their own cleaner; Connell’s mother, Lorraine to work in their lavish mansion. At school though, Marianne doesn’t fit in; she’s a social outcast whom her peers see fit to constantly taunt and ridicule. Even Connell hides his sexual involvement with her from his mates, pretending to be indifferent towards her in their presence.
The execution of the romance was enjoyable to read as it achieves what I believe a good romance should; it presents the relationship with a challenge, such as their difference in class for example, that must be overcome and in so doing giving the romance an almost forbidden, star-crossed lovers quality.
I love the realism that Rooney’s writing evokes but at times, the lines between realism and mundane•ness are blurred making parts of the story seem a bit monotone and pedestrian. The story continually jumps from one present to another and employs the use of flashbacks to fill in the gaps between time jumps. I thought this was an interestingly atypical approach, but it was a bit hard to keep track of the present scenario. As most of the flashbacks occur mid-dialogue, it was difficult to remember what the original conversation was about when the story jumped back to the present.
I think the characters develop well, from Marianne’s acceptance of her unlovable nature to Connell’s growing feeling of lack of belonging and subsequent descent into depression. They both come to realize that they aren’t like normal people because they feel alienated from their social circles and environment. The romance however, which is the main driving force of the story, doesn’t provide any sense of closure. Normal People leaves you with the impression that Connell and Marianne have come to terms with their new found friendship, but it seemed to me that they were just as confused and estranged about their relationship as they were to begin with, which unfortunately gave the story a weak ending for me. Overall I did enjoy this book and therefore I rate Normal People..
Hi All, Thank you as always for reading this review! I read this book as part of a buddy read with some other book reviewers so I already know I have an unpopular opinion of this book. Even though I didn’t love it, I can definitely see why many would. Have you read Normal People? What did you think? Let me know in the comments. 🤗🤗
Until next time!
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