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Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Title: Normal People
Author: Sally Rooney
Year published: 2019
Category: Adult fiction (romance)
Pages: 288 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)Ireland

SummaryConnell 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.

Review: My book club is going two months with out a meeting so we chose two Irish novels; this is the first one I'm listening to. I hear it is also a Hulu series, but I don't have Hulu so haven't watched it.

There is something quite lovely about this book; it seems to be about nothing much, but lots all at the same time. Connell and Marianne's lives just keep connecting. They date, they sleep together, they get angry with one another, they hang out in the same or connecting friend groups and the cycle repeats. Often. They cannot leave one another's lives and yet, they cannot commit to one another either.

Nothing really happens in this novel, but the characters are strong; I enjoyed the audiobook, narrated well by Aoife McMahon. I think hearing it with the Irish accent made me enjoy the book even more. If you want a book that is character-based, lovely and thoughtful about friendship, growing up, and life, this one will suit you. 

Challenges for which this counts: none

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