Normal People

Normal People

A Novel

Book - 2019
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NOW AN EMMY-NOMINATED HULU ORIGINAL SERIES * NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * "A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships" ( People ) from the author of Conversations with Friends, "a master of the literary page-turner" (J. Courtney Sullivan).


TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR-- People, Slate, The New York Public Library, Harvard Crimson

AND BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR-- The New York Times , The New York Times Book Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Vogue, Esquire, Glamour, Elle, Marie Claire, Vox, The Paris Review, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation--awkward but electrifying--something life changing begins.

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 at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And 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.

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can't.

Praise for Normal People

"[A] novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting." -- The Washington Post

"Arguably the buzziest novel of the season, Sally Rooney's elegant sophomore effort . . . is a worthy successor to Conversations with Friends . Here, again, she unflinchingly explores class dynamics and young love with wit and nuance." -- The Wall Street Journal

"[Rooney] has been hailed as the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism. . . . [She writes] some of the best dialogue I've read." -- The New Yorker
Publisher: London ;, New York :, Hogarth,, [2019]
Edition: First American edition.
ISBN: 9781984822178
Branch Call Number: FICTION Rooney Sally
Characteristics: 273 pages ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

The unconventional secret childhood bond between a popular boy and a lonely, intensely private girl is tested by character reversals in their first year at a Dublin college that render one introspective and the other social, but self-destructive. [Adult books for young adults; Books to TV; Liter... Read More »

As Marianne and Connell negotiate the twists and turns of their complicated relationship, Connell's battle with depression constantly influences his responses to situations and experiences.

JCLZachC Aug 16, 2019

I really like a lot of things about this novel. I like the unique rhythm the writing creates, how the non-use of quotations in dialogue gives the interactions an intimacy. I like the insightful light shined on the paradoxes of life, like the personal demons' that leave us longing to be normal.

JCLCassandraG Jul 11, 2019

Ugh this book feels like it was written by some kind of vaguely charming robot with an actually talented human being leaning in every 15 pages or so to lend a sentence with real integrity. It's like reading fan fiction written about two people you went to high school with but couldn't pick out in... Read More »

JCLGreggW Apr 24, 2019

Rooney crafts a compelling coming-of-age novel that's one of this years' standouts. Marianne and Connell, two Irish teens who grow up in the same town, connect and reconnect at university, despite class differences and relationship inexperience. Rooney's sincere, intimate writing shines.

From the critics

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ArapahoeSarahH May 06, 2021

Oh how conflicted I am about this book! Even weeks after finishing I cannot decide if Marianne and Connell complete each other, or completely destroy each other. Not a light read, but glimpses of hope.

Apr 26, 2021

This book 100% did not live up to all the hype surrounding it. It's an angsty romance written for teenagers who're equally as angsty and think they know everything about life and what realistic relationships are. The author tried too hard to be angsty and realistic to the point that the novel just wasn't realistic anymore; it felt like the author was doing too much to stand out as REALISTIC and UNIQUE (I absolutely hated the lack of quotation marks--it doesn't do anything besides make the book harder to read).

The main characters consist of a pick me girl and an overtly hormonal guy that seems to "only have eyes for her." Like I said, a cliché novel disguised as a realistic outlook on relationships. The characters have absolutely zero character growth making the "realistic" ending quite substance-less.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Apr 16, 2021

Ok, what? I’m honestly surprised I liked this book so much. It’s definitely not my thing, it being so very relationship-y and angsty with nothing else really going on. But because of the deafening buzz at the time of publication, it's been on my to-read list for a while. Then the show aired (buzz, buzz, buzz), so when I saw the available audiobook on NC Digital Library, I went for it. AND... I really, really liked it. Or maybe even loved? I don’t know; I’m admittedly still confused. Getting to know these characters was oddly enjoyable, and I found myself routing for their coupledom even when it might not have been the best thing. But maybe that’s the appeal- life can be complicated and messy, and a lot of the time, what we want is not best and yet… Anyways, not sure I’ve read a book where the characters’ thoughts are so centered, and I’m finding it difficult to climb out of their heads. I think that says something.

Nicr Feb 13, 2021

Complex, incisive character study of a long-term, on-again, off-again relationship.

Jan 31, 2021

This took me awhile to finish because the emotions it stirred up at times was hard to handle. I felt like I’ve been there with Connell and Marianne in their roller coaster ride to find themselves and their a sense of belonging. It also reminded me of all the feelings and experiences I’ve been through. Sometimes it feels a little too close to home. Their relationship with each other as well as with others are heartbreaking. This is what real life is about and not everything is happy and cozy. There are good times and then there are really bad times.

Jan 30, 2021

I wish I hadn't read this book. It is extremely depressing. A woman who continually turns away from a somewhat decent guy and chooses sick, abusive men. I couldn't sleep one night, it upset me to that degree. No thanks. At this point in life, I've heard and read enough negativity. It's time to stop wallowing in depravity, move away from unhealthy things.

Jan 28, 2021

Normal People is a quick and captivating novel that teaches the reader about the power of relationships, and how they can be used to transform people in a number of ways. Marianne and Connell grew up in the same town, practically unacquainted, until one fateful conversation changes how they look at one another. The novel takes us from the first conversation to years later, detailing how the two always seem to find their way back to each other. Although a quick read, the book does not lack originality, deepness, or insight into the lives of the protagonists. An important message taken away from Rooney’s novel was the idea of worthiness and love. Marianne finds herself unworthy of love, outcast, and abnormal. Connell is at his lowest point when he is not with those who make him feel cared for. The two search for their idea of love in a number of different ways while the novel teaches us about seeking support and healthy relationships. As cheesy as it sounds, the novel ensures the reader, as well as Connell and Marianne, that they are deserving of love, and that it is something fundamental to the human experience (in a number of different ways). Although short, Normal People doesn't shy from connecting with the readers and sharing a number of different messages about life and love. ⅘ stars, only for the abruptness of the ending!
@readingmouse of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Jan 17, 2021

Unassailable, at least in my bookclub.

Jan 17, 2021

Normal People is a story of two people who are both damaged and affected by their life experiences in such unique ways that only the other can understand. It is a modern love story filled with heartbreak, the challenges of life, and character growth. We see Marianne and Connell fall in love and leave each other repeatedly, and the way they continually come back to one another. It is a story with so many layers and beautiful writing that shows how young love can have a lasting impact on the rest of your life.

Jan 11, 2021

I found this book disappointing and uncomfortable to read. It started out with great promise, but really seemed to bog down once the protagonists went to college. I suppose it is realistic in a gritty, icky way; but it certainly is not what I would call entertainment nor uplifting. Many times I wanted to stop reading. I really cannot recommend it. I also agree w a previous comment--would have preferred quotation marks.

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Add a Quote
Aug 06, 2020

I’m just nervous, he says. I feel like it’s pretty obvious I don’t want you to leave.

In a tiny voice she says: I don’t find it obvious what you want.

Aug 06, 2020

If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed.

Aug 06, 2020

Cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently. You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.

ArapahoeMaryA Feb 07, 2020

Marianne had a wildness that got into him for a while and made him feel that he was like her, that they had the same unnameable spiritual injury, and that neither of them could ever fit into the world. But he was never damaged like she was. She just made him feel that way.

There’s something frightening about her, some huge emptiness in the pit of her being. It’s like waiting for a lift to arrive and when the doors open nothing is there, just the terrible dark emptiness of the elevator shaft, on and on forever. She’s missing some primal instinct, self-defense or self-preservation, which makes other human beings comprehensible. You lean in expecting resistance, and everything just falls away in front of you.

ArapahoeStaff26 Sep 17, 2019

He makes a facial expression she can't interpret, kind of raising his eyebrows, or frowning. When they get back to his house the windows are all dark and Lorraine is in bed. In Connell's room he and Marianne lie down together whispering. He tells her she's beautiful. pg. 45


Add Age Suitability
Jan 26, 2021

PAOLA SALGUERO thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Aug 28, 2020

kaitoryn thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Apr 06, 2020

CORI D. MORRIS thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Aug 04, 2019

J_257 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Summary
Feb 20, 2021

Don't remember much. Review: Marianne and Connell attend the same secondary school in Carricklea, a small town in Sligo, Ireland. The popular Connell, captain of the football team and a promising scholar, is the son of a single mother who cleans house for Marianne's mother. Marianne, bullied by her financially well-off family, occupies the lowest rung of the school's social ladder but outshines all of her peers academically. Though they avoid each other in public, Marianne and Connell share an intense emotional bond reinforced by secrecy and sex. .......

SPL_HEATHER Jun 25, 2019

Connell and Marianne attend the same high school in small town, present day
Ireland. On the surface they have nothing in common and probably wouldn't
have crossed paths outside school had it not been for the fact that
Connell's mother cleans house for Marianne's mother and Connell waits at the
house to take his mother home every day. So begins a friendship that is kept
hidden from their school friends because at school Connell is one of the
popular and confident kids, and Marianne is considered an awkward oddity,
having no friends, but really not caring either. Connell is embarrassed to
be seen at school with Marianne and Marianne seems to accept that they
shouldn't acknowledge each other.

Skip ahead a year, and the two are at university in Dublin. Marianne has
found her confidence and is popular and outgoing, while Connell can only
stand looking on from the sidelines uncertain with what to do with his life.
Despite the changes in their circumstances they are each supportive of the
other, and through numerous personal, sometimes destructive relationships,
they always eventually gravitate towards one another.

Normal People could be called a coming of age novel and the central
characters are young people, but it isn't necessarily a young adult novel. I
don't think Rooney is aiming to write for any particular generation because
what Connell and Marianne go through is applicable to most of us whatever
our ages. It's not quite a romance either, but it is a love story. It almost
defies categorization. Ultimately I think it's a novel about integrity and
doing the right thing for the person you love, all the while knowing that
your own life will likely be changed and diminished. It's a novel about pure
love, love that is capable of overcoming everything, including shame and
Nominated for the Booker prize, Sally Rooney's writing is beautiful, and
each new chapter is a snapshot in the lives of two flawed but hopeful young


Add Notices
Jan 26, 2021

Sexual Content: References to sex and BDSM.

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