A NovelBook - 2019
From the critics
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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
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