Book Review

Book Review | Normal People by Sally Rooney

Title: Normal People
Author: Sally Rooney
Genre: Adult Fiction
Published On: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Hogarth
Source: physical copy
Pages: 304

Synopsis: 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.

My thoughts

(Spoiler free!)

I felt like the only person left who hadn’t read Normal People, but I finally read this absorbing little book in almost one sitting. I was instantly drawn in by Rooney’s writing style. It was odd and different, almost like I was reading a novel from the 1950s, but with laptops and social media. Normal People is the kind of book I think of as a “book club” book. A book with layers and characters that you want to dissect and discuss with others. (Now if only I had a book club.) 

“Her eyes fill up with tears again and she closes them. Even in memory she will find this moment unbearably intense, and she’s aware of this now, while it’s happening. She has never believed herself fit to be loved by any person. But now she has a new life, of which this is the first moment, and even after many years have passed she will still think: Yes, that was it, the beginning of my life.”

Sally rooney, Normal People

Connell and Marianne are young and flawed and so bad at communication. But I couldn’t put the book down. These are characters that jump off the page. At times, they’re frustrating, engrossing, stupid, damaged, and heartbreaking. I wasn’t surprised by the ending. (Don’t worry, no spoilers here.) It felt right and conducive to the rest of the novel. 

If you’re looking for a light beach-read type of book with a romantic love story, this is not it. But if you’re looking for a quick read that will consume you and devastate you (in a good way), Normal People is the right choice.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

A Song For A Book

On Bookstagram I created a hashtag for when I include a song that reminds me of the book I’m sharing, #ASongForABook, I thought I’d make it a regular feature on my reviews, too.

Apparently while Sally Rooney was writing Normal People she made a Spotify playlist for Marianne and a one for Connell. Here’s a Buzzfeed article with the links to the playlists. I’m choosing Vampire Weekend’s “Campus” to spotlight here:

…Then I see you, you’re walking cross the campus
Cruel professor, studying romances
How am I supposed to pretend
I never want to see you again?

What did you think of Normal People? Or is it still lingering on your TBR, too? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Wandering!

6 thoughts on “Book Review | Normal People by Sally Rooney”

  1. I haven’t read this one, but I also don’t plan to. It’s outside my usual genres, and the things I’ve heard about it — while usually positive reviews — haven’t peaked my interest. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, though!

  2. Oh yay, I’m really glad that you enjoyed it! This one… Was a toughie! I mean, their relationship is incredibly messed up and it’s not a happy book at all but it’s also so raw and real in that sense. It’s far from perfect but that’s also relationships. Both characters are equally messy but I also really related to them both (don’t know what that says about me hah). Normal People has really stuck with me for longer than I expected. Still makes me feel funny when I think about it now! Can’t wait to see the show — I heard good things about it 😀 I hope you enjoy it! Also, even before I saw the playlist post ‘Linger’ is the song that really makes me think of these two lol great review!

    1. I actually really related to both of them, too… so you’re not alone! Ha! I’m halfway through the episodes and I actually might like it even better than the book. Or it’s just enhancing the book. I’m not sure yet, but the acting is superb! And the music, fyi. The music is amazing! <3

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