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Book Review: Normal People

May 1, 2019

Well, I think my book burn-out my have resolved itself this week! I really loved reading this week's book. I've never tried a New Adult book (like a more mature Young Adult novel), and was excited to give it a try!

 

If you need a catch up as to why I do a weekly book review, check it out here!

 

This week's book was another recommended by Book of the Month Club, and definitely fits into that New Adult category! So, with no more ado, here is my review of Normal People by Sally Rooney!

 Normal People begins in a small Irish town, Carricklea, and follows Marianne and Connell through the next few years. Connell is considered very popular, whereas Marianne is a bit of a pariah. Soon, Connell and Marianne begin bonding while his mom cleans her house. They start a physical relationship, which Connell insists on keeping secret, fearing he'd be judged for it. When he asks another girl to a school dance, Marianne ends the relationship. 

 

The novel jumps ahead to their freshman year of college, where their both attending Trinity College in Dublin. But, the roles have switched; Marianne is now popular, and Connell is struggling to fit in. 

 

However, the pair begin their physical relationship again, without deciding to label it. When Connell needs to return to Carricklea for the summer, Marianne decides the two need to see other people, which the pair eventually do. Connell begins dating Helen, and Marianne begins to date the sadistic Jamie. Connell can't understand why Marianne is with a man like Jamie, but she says she likes it.

 

After Marianne ends things with Jamie she is ostracized by her friend group. Luckily, she's now going to school in Swenden for the year. She meets Lukas, and begins another abusive relationship.

 

While Marianne is away, Connell is still struggling to fit in, and is eventually diagnosed with depression and anxiety.  He ends things with Helen, but begins sharing his writing under a pseudonym. Marianne comes home, and the pair being to become friends again. The story ends with Marianne's abusive brother hurting her, and Connell coming to her rescue. The novel ends with the pair realizing they love each other and are willing to try long distance as Connell gets an offer to move to New York City to continue college with a Creative Writing degree. 

 

I was hesitant to start this one, as I have thoroughly out grown YA novels. Luckily for me, this is most assuredly not a YA novel. There are some very graphic sex scenes, and Marianne's relationships are very messed up. It was, at times, a little shocking to read.

 

I wish Rooney would have given more backstory to Marianne. We know her mother and brother hate her, but we never find out why. I would have liked to know why they treat her that way. Rooney also implies her father was abusive, but there is never any confirmation. I feel that a little more back story would have really justified Marianne's actions.

 

I also didn't like that Rooney never used quotation marks in the novel. I'm sure she was attempting something stylistic, but I was very confusing for me to separate the dialogue from the rest of the writing.

 

I also didn't think the writing was very special. There was not a ton of style to her writing; I wish she would have been a bit more evocative since she was working with some heavy material throughout the novel.

 

All in all, I would give Normal People a 3 out of 5!

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