Book Review – Normal People by Sally Rooney

First published, 2018

⭐ ⭐

The story follows Irish teenagers, Connell and Marianne. The pair attend the same school but are of very different backgrounds, with Connell’s mother working as a cleaner for Marianne’s family. Where Connell has been raised in a loving, if ordinary home, Marianne has been brought up with heaps of money and abusive bullies for a family.

As the popular lad at school, footballer Connell would never willingly associate with oddball bookworm, Marianne. But, when he comes to collect his mother from her cleaning duties, he gradually gets to know the friendless girl and comes to like her. He’ll never acknowledge her while they’re at school, he wouldn’t dare risk his popularity, but as their relationship becomes more sexual and confused, he finds he can’t cope without her.

As they drift in and out of each other’s lives, their levels of status and success swapping around, we discover that these are two very broken people who can’t really do without each other.

Sadly, I found this one of the most depressing books I have ever read. This line, in particular, nearly choked me with dull tears:

‘If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed.’
From July 2014, Normal People by Sally Rooney

The writing was simplistic and lacked shine. Many of the similes were so dragged out and tortuous, they could have been constructed by a devastated teenager. I really didn’t care for the fact that much of the story is told through dialogue which doesn’t include a single speech-mark. I found myself double-checking who was talking much of the time.

Although there are wonderful quotes all over the cover from various publications praising this book, and a list of its achievements, I couldn’t begin to recommend it. Save your money. Read something else.