Normal People is one of those books, like quite a few on my blog actually, where I picked it up because I’d heard a lot of chatter around it. My partner watched the television show and really liked it and one of my friends had read the book too. Therefore, to feel involved, I decided to pick it up too. What did I think?
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Normal People by Sally Rooney focuses almost solely on the lives of Connel and Marianne and how they constantly intertwine with one another. It’s a story about love, real life and the hardships that come with youth, growing up and the difficulties in change.
Normal People plot – 3.5/5
When you consider what actually happens in Normal People, it is actually minimal. The book is set over a span of a number of years as we follow Connell and Marianne’s lives through high school and then college. Their lives are interesting in their own right but arguably due to the book being so realistic in this sense, nothing overly dramatic or plot-changing ever really happens that would cause this book to have a “great plot”.
The story focuses more on the actual difficulties in life that both Connell and Marianne experience. It covers their sex lives, social anxiety, their attempts to really find themselves, their acceptance that the world is a difficult place to try and exist in. Yes, there are moments in the book that will keep you gripped and, because you fall in love with their on-and-off again relationship, the smaller things seem to magnify into something far more substantial for you as the reader.
Normal People characters – 5/5
Now, this is where I fell in love with Normal People. One day at the beach I read over 130 pages of this book and I can’t remember the last time I did such a thing with much ease. I was truly invested in Connell and Marianne.
On my Instagram I couldn’t quite explain what I enjoyed about their relationship so much. I think there were two main aspects in hindsight: I love that they’re always there for each other, they never really truly fall out to a point of never speaking to one another again, when they do speak to one another again it’s so natural and like it was before and I find all of these elements so refreshing from the relationships you often read in books where one of them gets annoyed at the other for minor details for the sake of moving the plot along.
The second thing I loved about these two characters in their conversations. Because of their high IQs, their conversations aren’t like most other people’s. In a similar vein to what I mentioned above, due to their ability to think forward and think so rationally, their conversations often seem so logical. Where an apology is the most simple and most sensible thing to do, they apologise; where some questions may be too difficult to answer on the spot, they’re honest about the fact they haven’t yet thought about it or that it’s something they’ve never considered. There’s none of this stuttering or lying to appear to people they’re not. I loved that their conversations never felt fake or wasted – they only ever spoke to get answers or to make the other feel good. It was so very refreshing.
Normal People – 4/5
I didn’t know whether to give Normal People 5 stars or not. I came out of it absolutely loving it – but I think this might be because I’d naively fallen in love with the relationship between Connell and Marianne. When I looked back at what had actually happened – the story, the key plot points etc, I realised there wasn’t a huge amount there. I’ll tell people I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it, however completely understand why some people might find it boring too.