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.
I 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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