Sunday, May 19, 2019

Normal People; Sally Rooney

AUTHOR:  Sally Rooney
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Ireland
FORMAT:  - eGalley (268pp)
RATING - 4/5

Normal People is a quiet coming of age story which drew me in immediately as it's a story about early relationships and missed opportunities.

Marianne and Connell are both very bright but couldn't be more different, Yet when they meet, something clicks. Marianne's a cold, emotionless teen who comes from a wealthy but dysfunctional family. She's awkward and others her age think she's just plain odd. Connell is handsome and popular, his family is poor and his mother is a cleaning lady for Marianne's family.  One day when he goes to pick his mother up at Marianne's house, they begin to chat and soon become friends and eventually sexual partners.  Fearing he will be teased by his peers if their relationship is found out, he wants them to keep things secret and just between them. She goes along with this, probably because she's used to be mistreated, at least emotionally, by her own family.

The following year both Marianne and Connell end up at Trinity College in Dublin but here their roles seem reversed. Marianne becomes the popular one, a social butterfly and it's Connell who's feeling insecure, shy, depressed and like he doesn't fit it. Although they come in and out of togetherness, they always seem drawn back to each other.

The story is told from both of their POVs and although well written, at times I felt a bit frustrated by the story and the failure by both to communicate what they were feeling.  It reminded me about just how very much we are a product of our upbringing.  I also wish that the author delved more into Marianne's family and why she was treated the way she was growing up.

There are many themes running through this novel: social class differences, relationship dynamics, mental health issues, bullying, young love and more. A deeply drawn story with an overall darker tone. I'm glad I read it and, the more I've thought about this one, the more my opinion changed a bit overall to a slightly more favorable rating.


  1. Too bad this one didn't do quite as much as it could have. Even so, it sounds like a good book.

  2. I've seen a few reviews for this book lately. It sounds good.

  3. I've read mixed reviews for this one, but it still sounds like one I might like to try someday.

  4. It doesn't sound all that bad even though we're not used to normal people!

  5. I've read 2 good reviews of this today so will have to try to get to it soon.

  6. I listened to this one (loved the Irish accent) and was very impressed. Hoping to read the author's first novel soon.

    1. Glad you loved it JpAnn. For me sometimes accents work but other times not as well so I decided on the eBook.

  7. So many are talking about this book! I must check it out. I'm on a long wait list for it at the library.

  8. I tend to like books set in Ireland so this may work for me. I like the idea of a role reversal in college.

  9. I will get to this one eventually. Your review helped.

  10. Seems like a lot of people are reading this one right now. Good press, mostly. The things you pointed out would bother me too, so although it is on my list I am not itching to get to it like I was last week.


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