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Normal People by Sally Rooney
Hogarth Press, 2019
Trigger Warnings: Abuse, suicide, self-harm.
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 sidelines, 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.
This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and opinions and thoughts. This book was… a lot.
I started out absolutely loving it. The way it was written reminded me of a lot of the books I read as an English major in college, and it took me back. And then… it got weird.
There was a lot of unexpected stuff. Not plot twist unexpected, more like wait where did this come from and why is this being brought up unexpected. it was a lot. I found it difficult to read and seriously thought about DNFing it, but I’m actually glad I didn’t.
While the ending wasn’t what I wanted, it was realistic and also hopeful enough to make me feel like the characters weren’t completely shitty people. If you’ve hung out here a bit, you’ll know I’m a sucker for a good ending. While this ending didn’t redeem the book entirely for me, it did help me appreciate it and the characters a little more.
But not enough to want to watch the Hulu series. I’ve had enough of Marianne and Connell.