NOW AN EMMY-NOMINATED HULU ORIGINAL SERIES • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships” (People) from the author of Conversations with Friends, “a master of the literary page-turner” (J. Courtney Sullivan).
ONE OF THE TEN BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE—Entertainment Weekly
TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—People, Slate, The New York Public Library, Harvard Crimson
AND BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Vogue, Esquire, Glamour, Elle, Marie Claire, Vox, The Paris Review, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country
Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation—awkward but electrifying—something life changing begins.
A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.
Praise for Normal People
“[A] novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting.”—The Washington Post
“Arguably the buzziest novel of the season, Sally Rooney’s elegant sophomore effort . . . is a worthy successor to Conversations with Friends. Here, again, she unflinchingly explores class dynamics and young love with wit and nuance.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[Rooney] has been hailed as the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism. . . . [She writes] some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”—The New Yorker
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Irish author Sally Rooney’s second novel is a sharply observed story about growing up and learning to love. Connell is a popular kid from the wrong side of the tracks, while Marianne is a rich, slightly awkward school outcast. From their respective childhoods in rural west Ireland to their college years in Dublin, Marianne and Connell struggle to square their shared intelligence and passion with the calcified gender and class politics that define so much of their lives. Normal People is both a timeless love story and a resonant cautionary tale. Rooney’s characters feel poignantly, painfully real—we wished her book were twice as long.
Rooney (Conversations with Friends) stuns with her depiction of an on-again off-again relationship between two young adults navigating social pressures. Connell is a popular soccer player at his school in Carricklea, Ireland. He embarks on a secret, mostly sexual relationship with Marianne, the socially isolated and mistreated daughter of the wealthy family Connell's mom cleans for. Connell's paranoia about social standing spoils their relationship when he asks another classmate to a school dance. When they connect again as students at Trinity College in Dublin, Marianne has found a stronger voice and a large group of friends while Connell struggles to adapt to college life. A miscommunication scuttles their second attempt at a relationship, and Marianne soon gets involved with a boorish student with sadistic sexual desires. She confides in Connell about her ambivalence toward rough sex, but he fails to act on his strong desire to protect her. Personal crises and dissembling about feelings push the pair alternatively together and apart up to an open-ended but satisfying conclusion. Rooney crafts a devastating story from a series of everyday sorrows by delicately traversing female and male anxieties over sex, class, and popularity. This is a magnificent novel.
It was a good read. I enjoyed the book. It kept me anticipating something around the corner. I felt like some big secret was still hidden, but never revealed.
Normal People is a surprisingly emotional book. While the writing seems stiff at times what I loved about this book was how I felt while reading. Rooney succeeds at pulling me into the world of the novel and in a relatively short number of pages makes the characters feel very alive. Both of the main characters are deeply flawed and Rooney wastes no time revealing their painful limitations and exploring the effect they have on one another’s lives.
It might not be an instant classic, but it’s an interesting story that moves forward at a startling pace. By the time I got to the end of this book I had a feeling the resolution that I was rooting for would not be the ending. I was still almost compelled to read because I just really loved both of these characters despite their flaws.
I felt like I was waiting for something big to happen the entire book.