This author is younger than I am. I mean, so is my author friend, but Sally Rooney was born in THE NINETIES and is this talented. Blown away.
But that’s not about this book. Normal People is about Marianne and Connell, growing up in a small town in western (I believe) Ireland. They exist in two separate worlds that collide in one very specific place – her family home, where his mother works as a housekeeper. Outside of that, she is the quiet, weird, rich girl while he is from a no-name family but is athletic and popular. A year later, they leave for the same university and the dynamic flips, putting Marianne on the top of the social hierarchy while Connell struggles to find his place.
What this book is really about, though, is the damage done to them by their respective circumstances, and how that echoes in and influences their lives. Some is self inflicted, some is unavoidable, and some is compounded by the lives they choose to leave. Normal People is a sad study of really just that: normal people. Neither Connell nor Marianne is by any means extraordinary, but here we are given a beautifully depicted glimpse into their lives.
The book gets quite sad as you watch them spiral separately and understand so vividly how just a little communication could have saved so much. Their inability to communicate with each other (or really, with anyone) though feels so deeply in character you almost can’t imagine it having gone any other way. It is a good, sad book.