Normal People by Sally Rooney

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“No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why not.” – Sally Rooney

This fiction set at Dublin felt like the right kind of book that I was in the mood for at the time I read it. Fiction/contemporary books attract me more when the weather is getting sunnier, which was happening.

Synopsis:

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.

Normal people has been one of those books that I’ve been seeing around a lot on Goodreads, and I decided to finally pick it up. Although I’m intrigued by picking up more contemporary fiction, I often find it arduous to get through them. The writing often feels slow to me, and compared to the more action-packed books I enjoy reading, often not as much happens in the contemporary genre. The genre focuses more on feelings and the deeper understanding of people, which is a different way of reading a book in my way of looking at it.

Getting through this book had it’s obstacles. Although we get to know some deeper understanding of Connell and Marianne, they felt superficial to me. This is because their background and feelings are explained, but not enough to completely feel their pains and see the world through their eyes. The story became at times difficult to get through, reading the same point of the story over and over again. I waited for something to happen between them, which felt like taking one step forward and two steps back.

What surprised me the most, is that they turned out as completely different people between the four and some years we follow the two of them. How they were during their high school years, is the complete opposite of how they turned out to be when going to college. Even though people change, this amount of change seemed peculiar to me. It’s a phase of life where people change, though you don’t become a completely opposite person of what you were.

Beside the trouble I had with going through the story, I appreciated the transition the characters had to go through. The pressure of college, the different family backgrounds, and the discovery of themselves. Marianne comes from a completely different family compared to Connell, something the author seems to accentuate a lot. Their life shows a transition everyone reacts to differently.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. Honestly, I expected more from this story. Though it also didn’t disappoint me.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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