Review: Normal People

“Life offers up these moments of joy despite everything,” 

Rating: 2/5 stars
Format: Physical copy
Genre: Contemporary


Synopsis

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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.


The Verdict

Normal People is a book that I picked up completely on a whim after seeing it float around Goodreads for quite some time and honestly, I really don’t know what to make of it. It’s not very often I feel extremely conflicted over a book but here we are. There were things I liked and disliked about this book but mainly after finishing it I just feel…nothing? I feel like this is book that should make you feel something so profoundly and I definitely did not have that experience. Normally, when I sit down to write my reviews I try to avoid reading any others because I find it’s easy for me to change my rating once I do but with this book I’ve spent DAYS reading so many reviews, good and bad and I still don’t know how I feel. So please bear with me on this review.

My biggest issue with this story was that it has a character driven plot…with extremely unlikeable characters. If you’re looking for a fast paced type of read with a killer plot this isn’t it. Both Connell and Marianne felt so flat and two dimensional throughout this entire novel. Whether it be their high school days or every time they found their back to one another in college it just felt extremely awkward. For two people that are supposed to be their most “normal” around each other reading this just felt like overseeing a painfully awkward social interaction. I get that the reality of this book is two lonely people who are trying to find their way in life but they were just so unlikeable and not good for each other that that it felt maddening to read this. And don’t even get me started on the ending because it just made the entire story feel pointless.

However, on the other hand the writing in this book was so well done that it made it hard for me to put this down. I loved the timeline that the story was told through and I enjoyed that within the 4 year timeline there were even more flashbacks thrown in. If the story was written any other way this would have 100% ended up being a DNF for me but instead it was this weird un-putdownable story where I pretty much disliked it all but couldn’t look away. With that all being said, I’m just going to leave it at that because despite finishing this almost a week ago I still can’t find the right words to adequately describe this book. While it definitely wasn’t a story for me it seems like from the reviews I’ve read (and it’s been a lot) that it’s one of those books where you either love it or hate it and there’s not much in between.

tw: depression, suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence

Until next time,

3 thoughts on “Review: Normal People

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