After hearing what feels like every human being on the planet talk about Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People, I decided it was time to give it a go and recommended it to my book club as the next book to read.
I had no idea what to expect when I first started Normal People, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. On the face of it, it looks like a foolproof cool guy falls in love with the unpopular girl teenage love story story but it turned out to be so much more.
The story starts with Connell and Marianne during their school years all the way into university. You see them making teenage mistakes which when you are reading it makes you want to shake them both to the struggles they feel when discovering themselves during their early twenties.
Based in a small town in Ireland there is a real British element to it which you see as Connell and Marianne make their way to university.
While Rooney is a good writer, Initially, I felt more could be done in developing the characters to make them more relatable to the audience. However, the fact she doesn’t adds to the story making me think this was done deliberately. It makes the plot more unpredictable allowing you, the reader, to question what the protagonist (Marianne) in particular will do next.
The best way I can sum it up is like a darker version of David Nicholls One day. While One Day was very much about the relationship between the two main characters, Normal People looks at Connells and Marianne’s lives as individuals too and explore their personal journeys and how they find themselves intertwined in each other’s individual narratives. Through their stories, Rooney tackles issues such as classism, privilege, domestic violence, female sexuality and so much more.
The book explores the notion of change. Can people change or do the circumstances of their life force them to live a certain plot they have no control over? It is an interesting notion and one Rooney tackles well.
After piquing my interest, I can safely say, Normal People, did not disappoint.