A NovelBook - 2019
ONE OF THE TEN BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE-- Entertainment Weekly
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
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
QuotesAdd a Quote
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.
If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed.
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.
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.
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
AgeAdd Age Suitability
SummaryAdd a Summary
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. .......
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