Normal People by Sally Rooney 

 December 18, 2022

By  BookishBearx

Hello, my lovelies! I’m back with another review, I’m trying to keep my posts as regular as possible and I do have a lot of review requests to post over the next few weeks once I’ve finished reading and compiling my thoughts. But I just wanted to let you know that I may be slightly erratic with posting here and there as I have a lot going on in the works when it comes to this site and my little brand that I’m trying to build. But I’m still here! And today I’m going to review a book that everyones been talking about – Normal People by Sally Rooney!

So, Normal People is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published April last year by Hogarth Press. However, its first publication was August 2018. It is available in numerous editions  and has been accredited with so many awards. Just to give you an idea of the plot, I’ll copy in the synopsis below from the books Goodreads page…

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.

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 in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, 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.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

— from Goodreads

In the book we follow Connell and Marianne through school to college. Connell is your typical popular kid, lots of friends, talented and smart. Marianne is the quiet, unpopular girl, the other kids think she’s weird and not pretty. Both come from different worlds and have very different lives. But somehow, they are brought together and a relationship, that isn’t always good or simple builds between them. We follow as they experience life’s hardships both together and apart.

I had a lot of hope for this book going into it after hearing all the hype over the book and the tv show. I posted on instagram saying I was about the start reading it and other people stated it was the best novel they’ve ever read, it’s amazing, the best book released this year, and so on. So you can see why I was expecting a really good read! But I’m not going to lie to you, I personally hated this book. And it is rare for me to use those words. But I did and I will tell you why. The first thing that I really didn’t like, was the fact that the relationship that it was portraying was highly toxic. When they’re in school and Connell insists it must stay a secret and the way Marianne is just okay with it. Nope. I don’t like that, there is no confrontation, she just accepts it. That is both unrealistic and such an unhealthy view to put out there as normal. Then when they get to college, how they just float around each other even when they’re in other relationships, when Marianne seems happy, Connell is pulling up her taste in guys or why she’s dating someone, yet he’s “in love” with someone else. I feel like Connell, is meant to be the best of friend to Marianne, but I actually see it as he’s quite the opposite. He’s emotionally abusive. One minute he’s there, the next he’s not. One minute he says he loves her and she’s beautiful and the other it’s we need to keep this a secret because I’d be embarrassed if my friends knew. I don’t like that.

I also found all of the main and key characters unlikeable. They lacked any personality to make them stand out. Connell was just whiney and Marianne just came across as a bit of a doormat accepting bad friends and bad treatment as it came. she didn’t once show sadness about it. I don’t think I know of any girl, with any level of self-esteem issues that would just accept that relationship of “we must keep it secret” and “I’m just going to disappear when I want” and “you can’t have a boyfriend but I can have a girlfriend” without some argument. Most girls would call that out in some manner.

I got from the synopsis that maybe they were meant to save each other? But from reading the book I felt like they just destroyed each other. The toxicity was real, my friends. No one comes out of a relationship like that unscathed. And I’m sorry but it isn’t normal and it isn’t love. And I think to try and portray that relationship as romantic and real is dangerous to impressionable people. Love shouldn’t hurt that much. Yeah arguments happen, but that relationship isn’t and wasn’t love.

Overall, I really didn’t love this book. I wonder if you can tell… HA. But obviously there’s something in it that other people love. I just found it incredibly infuriating and I felt that it didn’t do what it felt like it was meant to. I also don’t like that there are no speech marks for any of the speech in the book. I wouldn’t read this again, but however, I wouldn’t discourage people from reading it. Maybe I’ve misunderstood what it was aiming at? I don’t know but I know I didn’t like it and a lot of other people did. So maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not. But if anyone wants a copy of Normal People, give me a shout. I don’t think I’ll be reading mine again…

Star Rating /5


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