Normal People

Normal People

A Novel

Book - 2019
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Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person's life -- a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us -- blazingly -- about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2019.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780735276475
Branch Call Number: ROONE
Characteristics: 273 pages ; 23 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

KAIA GERBER INSTAGRAM BOOK CLUB

Two misfits have a relationship
A relationship based on secrecy and sex

Comment
JessicaGma Jul 05, 2019

Two things made me angry about the book - the first is that neither character is especially great. Yes, Marianne has a terrible homelife and such, and Connell's family has to get over their privilege (or were they the poor ones? I don't even recall) but GET OVER YOURSELVES. The other pet peeve is... Read More »

If you are Type O you are confident, self-determined, ambitious, strong-willed, intuitive, agreeable, competitive, and athletic. Try Normal People by Sally Rooney...

AND don't forget to donate blood, because you are a UNIVERSAL DONOR! See the link at the end of this list for more info.


From the critics


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m
mgray_5
Oct 05, 2020

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. At the beginning, I didn't think I would like it because the main characters were teenagers and reading about relationships at a young age feels trivial- but once you get to university years you realize it was necessary for character development.

Definitely a unique and more realistic love story, about so much more than love.

m
mlinard
Sep 20, 2020

Okay book. Not the type of book I usually pick. I prefer lighter material to read. It is not an uplifting read. Left me feeling a bit depressed, actually. And concerned that I didn’t “get” all the literary layers since there has been critics who thoroughly enjoyed the book.

t
TeaFloyd
Sep 18, 2020

I picked this book up because it was recommended as a reference for my own writing style (dialogue without quotation marks). I continued to read because I somehow related to both characters in the story. The way the characters choose to deal with their worsening mentality and the roughness of adult life and their own personal struggles was just amazingly relatable for me. I honestly feel like this would be a good book for high school seniors to read. It may help them deal with life after they graduate, because, even the most popular kid in your high school will struggle to make friends in college. Even the smartest kid in your high school will struggle to get a job. High School too often ends with these young adults feeling like not much about them will change.

f
fpsutka
Sep 16, 2020

You can watch the TV series on CBC Gem for free! I didn't read the paper novel though.

m
Memaw5414
Aug 30, 2020

Pointless and boring. I really didn't get anything out of this book, except the main character, Marianne, needs a psychologist. I thought at the end that the reason for the death of Marianne's father would explain her lack of love from her mother and brother and her lack of self worth but it just ended with nothing noteworthy.

l
lpottinger
Aug 17, 2020

I didn't enjoy this book at all. So depressing and emotionally taxing with an open ended ending. It's like eating a half baked cupcake with no icing!

a
aamcgrath
Aug 12, 2020

The two main characters were both emotionally stunted people who drank much too much, impaired in all kinds of ways. Her family was cruel, and while his single mom was decent enough, neither one of them grew up with a role model of a "normal" love relationship. Maybe that's why they were so useless at being a couple. I found this story weird and unsatisfying.

c
cathy22
Aug 09, 2020

Takes a hot minute to get into this book but I really enjoyed it.

k
kaitoryn
Aug 06, 2020

I wanted to like this book so bad, I reread it the day after I finished it the first time. That’s how desperate I was. Good thing the book is short, because reading Normal People for the second time proved to be fruitless.
Both times I was left underwhelmed. Perhaps it was because of Rooney’s style of prose, or maybe even the fact that I’m not a millennial, unlike the author and her characters. I’m guessing it’s the former. The prose was quite simple, and felt too bare at times. For example, during the characters’ conversations, I was confused as to which specific emotion accompanied each line of dialogue. Sure, I was able to infer a general vibe of emotional turmoil, but sometimes I had no idea whether a character was choking out a sentence on the verge of tears or muttering out of complete hopelessness. Other readers may like this quality of writing as it allows them to conjure aspects of the story with their imagination, thus giving it a more personal touch. Personally, I thought it made the book lack a certain level of emotional depth that would otherwise allow me to connect further to the characters.
Nonetheless, I still empathized Marianne and Connell, and I enjoyed picking up on the little ways their own inner flaws revealed themselves, whether it was through their actions or simple phrases of dialogue. Normal People loves to play the “will they, or won’t they” game with Marianne and Connell, (and also switching between Marianne being attractive or “garishly ugly”). While I rooted for them to become a couple, I wasn’t too devastated by their periods of separation as I was quite content with idea of them just being friends. Additionally, despite the large time skips, it still seemed like Marianne and Connell were constantly together somehow. To be frank, I wasn't as invested into the characters or their relationship as I think I should have been.
I’ll admit that I also enjoyed Rooney’s commentary on subjects such as class differences and privilege, and I did find some great quotes that particularly stood out to me. While this isn’t one of the “great” ones, the quote comparing Connell’s face to an “artist’s impression of a criminal” did make me laugh out loud as I imagined his face to be Robbie Rotten’s or even Waluigi’s.
After rereading the novel, I watched the Hulu adaptation and I actually really liked it, especially the actors’ interpretations of the characters. Whether or not you liked the book version of Normal People, I'd highly recommend the show.

d
Dee_BPL
Jul 29, 2020

Fantastic audiobook!

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Quotes

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k
kaitoryn
Aug 06, 2020

I’m just nervous, he says. I feel like it’s pretty obvious I don’t want you to leave.

In a tiny voice she says: I don’t find it obvious what you want.

k
kaitoryn
Aug 06, 2020

If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed.

k
kaitoryn
Aug 06, 2020

Cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently. You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.

ArapahoeMaryA Feb 07, 2020

Marianne had a wildness that got into him for a while and made him feel that he was like her, that they had the same unnameable spiritual injury, and that neither of them could ever fit into the world. But he was never damaged like she was. She just made him feel that way.

There’s something frightening about her, some huge emptiness in the pit of her being. It’s like waiting for a lift to arrive and when the doors open nothing is there, just the terrible dark emptiness of the elevator shaft, on and on forever. She’s missing some primal instinct, self-defense or self-preservation, which makes other human beings comprehensible. You lean in expecting resistance, and everything just falls away in front of you.

ArapahoeAnnaL Sep 17, 2019

He makes a facial expression she can't interpret, kind of raising his eyebrows, or frowning. When they get back to his house the windows are all dark and Lorraine is in bed. In Connell's room he and Marianne lie down together whispering. He tells her she's beautiful. pg. 45

Age Suitability

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k
kaitoryn
Aug 28, 2020

kaitoryn thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

c
CORI D. MORRIS
Apr 06, 2020

CORI D. MORRIS thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

j
J_257
Aug 04, 2019

J_257 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Summary

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SPL_HEATHERL Jun 25, 2019

Connell and Marianne attend the same high school in small town, present day
Ireland. On the surface they have nothing in common and probably wouldn't
have crossed paths outside school had it not been for the fact that
Connell's mother cleans house for Marianne's mother and Connell waits at the
house to take his mother home every day. So begins a friendship that is kept
hidden from their school friends because at school Connell is one of the
popular and confident kids, and Marianne is considered an awkward oddity,
having no friends, but really not caring either. Connell is embarrassed to
be seen at school with Marianne and Marianne seems to accept that they
shouldn't acknowledge each other.

Skip ahead a year, and the two are at university in Dublin. Marianne has
found her confidence and is popular and outgoing, while Connell can only
stand looking on from the sidelines uncertain with what to do with his life.
Despite the changes in their circumstances they are each supportive of the
other, and through numerous personal, sometimes destructive relationships,
they always eventually gravitate towards one another.

Normal People could be called a coming of age novel and the central
characters are young people, but it isn't necessarily a young adult novel. I
don't think Rooney is aiming to write for any particular generation because
what Connell and Marianne go through is applicable to most of us whatever
our ages. It's not quite a romance either, but it is a love story. It almost
defies categorization. Ultimately I think it's a novel about integrity and
doing the right thing for the person you love, all the while knowing that
your own life will likely be changed and diminished. It's a novel about pure
love, love that is capable of overcoming everything, including shame and
guilt.
Nominated for the Booker prize, Sally Rooney's writing is beautiful, and
each new chapter is a snapshot in the lives of two flawed but hopeful young
people.

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