My complaint against Conversations with Friends is wholly not the fault of the novel, the writer, or the characters within. My complaint is petty. I am being spoiled in lamenting that Conversations with Friends is not another Normal People. I know. It’s a wild assumption, I should know better, and the like- but Normal People was perfect. Conversations with Friends is a stepping stone on the path of Sally Rooney, and I wish that I had heeded a friend’s recommendation and read this one first!
That being said, Conversations with Friends also worms a way into your body and sits heavy in your bones. Frances and Bobbi, or heroines, make so many selfish choices, misguided decisions, and irresponsible acts that I was cringing along not just with them but with all of the similar choices that I made in college. Yikes. Their adventures (misadventures, really) are so embarrassingly familiar. I did laugh throughout, and care deeply about the outcome of their dalliances, but I cringed so hard I hurt my jaw while reading about their exploits trying to impress established artists at parties and readings. Their tragically misread situations of possible romantic situations were particularly brutal, but so is trying all of those things out on your own when you are young, stupid, and invincible.
They lean too hard into friendships, and then destroy them with an off-hand action. It’s excruciating but beautiful. It will keep you reading, but it will also make you take frequent breaks to get up, walk around the room, and shout at the characters. I personally enjoy the sensation, but I understand completely if you do not want to subject yourself to nostalgic torture for a time in your life that wasn’t really that wonderful to begin with!