Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

The Blurb:

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 side-lines, 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 Rating: ★★★★

My Review:

This is going to be a super quick, almost mini review.

I found the relationship in this book deeply disturbing…but completely riveting. It was definitely not the kind of book I should have been listening to aloud in the staffroom with quite vivid and depraved descriptions of sex acts and voicing of desires.

Normal People is a story of two teenagers/young adults grappling with who they are and with being out in the world. Their gravitational pull to each other is as destructive as any of their relationships. With themes of self-harm, suicide, depression, promiscuity, physical and sexual abuse, drugs and alcohol this was not at all a light read. I was quite often tempted to walk away from this book but something kept drawing me in. I think that something was the genius of Sally Rooney’s writing. Although I was uneasy through most of the story I felt compelled to follow it to the end to see if there was some kind of happy resolution for these poor lost souls. I desperately wanted to feel a glimmer of hope for these two. I needed them to get their lives together.

Another huge reason I read till the end was the narration. Listening to this on audiobook was a real experience with fantastic narration by Aoife McMahon. If you haven’t read it yet…and lets face it you probably have…I’m a bit late to this party….do it on audio.

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