Normal People is the feeling that immediately takes hold in your hands when you first pull away from someone that you love. It’s the deep, dull ache that comes from within your bones. The only way to ease the sensation is to try to take slow breaths- but you can’t and they rock through your lungs short and ragged. It’s packing up your car and driving away without an idea of when or how you’ll ever be near that person again. It’s the feeling when you have everything that you could ever need but you walk away nonetheless.
While I would not rather have to feel this way by my own doing, it is a frequent sensation that I seek from the books I read, the movies, I watch, and the like. I always go for the impossible pairs. Connell and Marianne are impossible. They are terrible for each-other, to each-other, and to themselves- but you can’t help holding your breath whenever they crash into each other’s orbits. They are modern-day transplants from a Raymond Carver story.
Sally Rooney’s prose is spare, clear, and harsh. Her observations cut and her conversations crush. Everything is metered, measured, and given out in minuscule doses. Connell and Marianne throb like a tooth gone bad; yet the idea of eventual relief keeps you working away at the ache.
Normal People was a one-day read; a fevered rush through- but it has lasted within me far beyond that first initial day. A piece will worm it’s way into my mind whenever it finds an idle moment between tasks and responsibilities, plunging me headlong into my own misguided relationships of years gone by.