Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney

“Generally I find men are a lot more concerned with limiting the freedoms of women than exercising personal freedom for themselves.” 

Normal People follows two characters, Connell and Marianne, through adolescence and young adulthood. They meet in secondary school – Connell is working class, popular and the star player on his school’s football team, Marianne is wealthy, weird, quiet and the smartest in her class. After school, Connell comes to pick up his mother from her housekeeping job in Marianne’s house and they hang out and talk which eventually leads to them starting a secret sexual relationship that Connell sabotages when he fears his friends will find out. A year later, they meet again in university and the tables have turned, Marianne is the very popular one while Connell is quiet and becoming quite depressed. Throughout their college years, they circle each other, dating other people, becoming friends with other people, but always being drawn back to each other regardless.

“If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed”

This book is angsty for sure but don’t let that put you off of reading this book. I think the compelling thing about this book is that the relationship between the two individuals seemed painfully real. The characters are very flawed and marred with very unlikable characteristics but you still find yourself rooting for them and hoping they make it out of young adulthood intact. This book shows how a lot of our lives as young adults are fueled by the constant need to perform for other people – our friends, our families, society, teachers, we are constantly inundated with these perfect lives that other people seem to be living especially with the advent of social media.

“There’s always been something inside her that men have wanted to dominate, and their desire for domination can look so much like attraction, even love.” 

This book focuses on only the important days of their lives, often skipping days and months ahead. The author simply presents the realities of their lives without any filters. This book is very humanising, I felt so exhausted after reading this, but i think that is exactly what the author intends to happen, It shows that normal people living normal lives can be quite tiresome. This book lacks quotation marks which made it difficult to follow at first but after a while, I didn’t notice the lack of quotation marks. If you’re going to be bothered by this, I recommend you do it on audio then. Also, the author puts in a lot of effort into developing her two main characters that she forgets to develop the secondary characters. Marianne’s brother and mother are so one dimensionally evil with no reasons to their actions. The author doesn’t give us a background on Marianne’s family at all. We just know that they are emotionally abusive and that’s that on that.

“And he’s attracted to her, he can admit that. After these months away from home, life seems much larger, and his personal dramas less significant. He’s not the same anxious, repressed person he was in school, when his attraction to her felt terrifying, like an oncoming train, and he threw her under it.” 

This book reminds me so much of “One Day” by David Nicholls, so if you liked that one which I did, you’d really enjoy this book. I gave this book 3 stars on goodreads and highly recommend it. Have you read this one? Are you going to? Let us know in the comments!



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