Normal People by Sally Rooney
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Expected publication: April 16th 2019 by Penguin Random House Canada & Knopf Canada
(first published August 28th 2018)
About the Book:
Connell Waldron is one of the most popular boys in his small-town high school--he is a star of the football team and an excellent student, and he is never wanting for attention from girls. The one thing he doesn't have is money. Marianne Sheridan, a classmate of Connell's, has the opposite problem. Marianne is plain-looking, odd, and stubborn, and while her family is quite well off, she has no friends to speak of. There is, however, a deep and undeniable connection between the two teenagers, one that develops into a secret relationship. Everything changes when both Connell and Marianne are accepted to Trinity College. Suddenly Marianne is well liked and elegant, holding court with her intellectual friends, while Connell hangs at the sidelines, not quite as fluent in the language of the elite. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle each other, falling in and out of romance but never straying far from where they started. And as Marianne experiments with an increasingly dangerous string of boyfriends, Connell must decide how far he is willing to go to save his oldest friend.
This book was so amazing, it's one of those books that's relatively short, and it's not super plot driven, and it sounds simple up front. But it's a novel that you want to stay in for as long as possible. Normal People uses stunning writing and a keen sense of what it is like to be high school and college-aged to create a riveting, close look at a relationship between two people.
We follow Marianne and Connell as they go through their senior year in a small town in Ireland and then head off to college. How Rooney shows us around Marianne's mind while her relationship with Connell gets more and more complicated is masterful. They are each an engaging character and Rooney writes about them with charm, grace and insight. I am many years past those developmental incidents of early life and were I a regretful type would wish I had more of these two young people in me. They have much to teach us of what and how to learn from those we love and indeed of what real love is. Amidst the miseries of adolescence they seem to enjoy life and ultimately want to enjoy it knowing each other. It's something I wasn't expecting, but was delighted by.
I don't want to say anything more about what happens in the story. It's a book where it's worth going in blind. Being in Marianne and Connell's head can be a struggle, but it's worth it for where it takes you in the end. Everything Sally Rooney captures is true and real and important.
Thank you NetGalley, Penguin Random House Canada, Knopf Canada and Sally Rooney for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.
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