Normal People by Sally Rooney

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.

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 though at times it seemed a bit 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.

The characters were developed with a lot of depth, 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. Overall I did enjoy this book and the somewhat open-ended nature of the ending and therefore I rate Normal People..

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Have you read Normal People? What did you think? Let me know!

Until next time!

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