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Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People, is a somewhat divisive book. I know lots of people who have read it and said that they hated it and some that have said they loved it. Where do I sit? I think I liked it.
A number one Sunday Times and top five New York Times bestseller, as well as winner of a whole long list of other awards, from the Costa Novel Award to the Novel of the Year and Book of the Year at the British Book Awards.
It’s clear that Sally Rooney has done something right with this one. And to a certain extent I can see and understand exactly why so many people have raved about Normal People. I found that I couldn’t put it down and I powered through the entire book in a matter of days, but I also found that nothing really happened.
Life offers up these moments of joy despite everything,”
Normal People: Synopsis
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person's life - a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us - blazingly - about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege.
Not for the first time Marianne thinks cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently.”
But I guess that is also the appeal of it. It does what it says on the tin – it tells a story of normal people. Both Marianne and Connell, the two characters that the story centres around, are flawed and make mistakes that has the readers screaming at them at times.
A little bit slow at times, the novel is one of emotions and thoughts more than it is about actions. In fact, it addresses a lot of deep emotions as its two protagonists navigate through their final year of high school and into their first few years of university.
Incredibly raw and relatable at times, the pair feel a little lost and are often unable to communicate exactly why. Constantly drawn back to one another, their stories are complex and although the novel features a love story of sorts, it is much more than that; it is a story about being human and the many emotions that come with it.
All-in-all this Normal People isn't going to be a novel for everyone but it’s definitely not a book to dismiss until you’ve given it a go.
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