Normal People is a story told about a man and a woman, whose lives clash together with varying results over the course of a few years. To make things interesting, this story kicks off in their final year of high school when most human beings are arguably at their worst.
In the beginning, Connell is the attractive and popular senior, though far from wealthy. He’s a teenager of few words who gets on well with his single mother and tries hard at school. Though he doesn’t strive for popularity, he does idly enjoy his lofty position on his small town’s social totem pole.
Marianne is his polar opposite – intentionally unpopular, wealthy, and seemly not concerned at all with her appearance. Connell’s mother is the housekeeper at Marianne’s house and the two strike up an unlikely friendship that escalates to regular canoodling. Connell keeps their trysts a secret as he’s concerned that his social status may be lowered through his association with Marianne. But his concern is not exactly malicious. He struck me as just your regular socially inept douche.
Things fall apart as expected, but Marianne and Connell are too intertwined to be rid of each other. They attend the same college, where Connell is shocked to find himself at the bottom of the heap while Marianne finds her place and makes friends easily.
Months stretch between Marianne and Connell’s interactions. They reappear in each other’s lives with regularity, much like two planets orbiting each other and stuck in each other’s gravitational pull. They see the best of each other, the worst, and everything in between. They fall prey to their worst instincts and sometimes help each other rise above them as they continue to change and mature.
This book is not my usual fare and it’s a difficult novel for me to review. I’m not sure what feeling is supposed to linger… Perhaps that people change, and can vacillate between good and bad as they grow into adults? And that our journey is never really ended? That’s hardly a newsflash though. I’m not sure if this novel had anything new to say to someone in their 30s… It certainly didn’t blow my mind. But there were beats within that did resonate with me, and I would recommend it… perhaps to someone in their early 20s who could use a little perspective on life and love.
3 ice cold cokes out of 5.