Normal People by Sally Rooney

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: sex, abuse, mental illness, depression.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars


Honestly, I don’t know how I really feel about Normal People by Sally Rooney.

img_9953I listened to the audiobook after seeing it get stellar reviews and hearing the buzz about it, especially after it started wracking up award nominations. At under eight hours, it’s a quick read to knock out, and the narration is entertaining to listen to with Aoife McMahon’s expressive and accented voice. Yet, as I listened, I just kept thinking to myself, where is this novel going?

In the beginning, we are introduced to Connell and Marianne, who both go to the same school but belong to different crowds. Connell is a soccer team star- Marianne is a loner who keeps to herself but has a bit of a reputation. Soon, the two find themselves involved in a secretive relationship- one of electric causal sex and no labels.

As they both head off to college, Marianne finds a new social circle and Connell struggles to adjust, grappling with his mental state. Despite being with other people, they still find themselves in each other’s bed. This cycle continues through their adulthood. In the end, their magnetism becomes what saves them both- for Connell, a way out of his depression, and for Marianne, a way out of an abusive relationship.

Rooney’s intimate study of their relationship is intriguing and as I said, the audiobook narration kept me interested to figure out what would become of them. However, the meandering story line and the perceived but not exactly felt depth of their emotional turmoil kept me from really connecting with the couple. Also the ending fell flat for me, in that it was what I wanted but not really what I expected, and certainly uneventful. I honestly question my own intellectual depth here because I just don’t think I get this book- unless the whole premise is that sometimes, normal people have rocky relationships and in the end, you hope for the best.

Published: August 28, 2018

Publisher: Hogarth Press

TL/DR: Normal People by Sally Rooney is about two people who have an on-again, off-again relationship.

Read it?  Go for it. And then if you love it, explain to me why.

Recommend it?  No, because honestly I’m not sure as to what to recommend it for.

Buy it?  No.

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Categories: Book Review, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance

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7 replies

  1. I appreciate your honest reviews!😍👍

  2. LOL, sometimes I surprise myself with what I say in reviews… but I really try to write exactly how I felt at the end of the book. I’m glad you appreciate it!

  3. Ahhh it’s interesting because the reasons you didn’t love Normal People are sort of the reasons I did. I found it quite refreshing to read a book that was more a character study than a book where stuff happens, if that makes any sense. As someone who doesn’t typically read romance novels, I think I enjoyed the reality of Marianne and Connell’s flawed relationship. Saying that though, I hated Conversations with Friends and from my experience people seem to like either one of the other.

  4. I’ve read SO many reviews praising this book to high heaven that it’s so refreshing to read one that’s not! Thanks for your honesty. I’ll pick it up when all the hype dies down and see how it goes 🙂

  5. I’ve just watched the BBC adaptation having read the novel last year. It was definitely my kind of book (I like a slow, subtle story!) I’ve written a full review on my blog if you fancy a read:)

  6. Excellent. If anyone’s interested, I’ve reviewed the TV series here…

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