Monday, 11 May 2020

Normal People By Sally Rooney Book Review

I only tend to share book reviews when a book has really got to me in some way. I want to talk about the books that I feel passionately about or that have stirred up ALL the emotions in me and Normal People by Sally Rooney did exactly that. I finished this book a few weeks ago now and I find myself still thinking about it. It seems to be a book that really divides people so I'm sure they'll be people reading this who felt the exact opposite to me but at the moment I'm struggling to see how any other book is going to beat it this year. This review is going to be LONG.
Normal People by Sally Rooney held up in front of musical programs on desk
'Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In 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. Normal people is a 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 they can't.'

My Review

 I only picked up Normal People recently after seeing the trailer for the TV adaptation which is available on BBC iPlayer and I ended up reading it in less than 12 hours. It's the first book in a while that has kept me up for hours because I just couldn't bare to put it down.

We first meet Connell and Marianne as teenagers in sixth form in a small town in Ireland. Connell is one of the popular boys at school and Marianne is the opposite in every way. The two of them would never usually find themselves in each others company but Connell's mum works as a cleaner for Marianne's family. They clearly come from very different worlds. It's not until Connell arrives to pick up his mum one day, that he and Marianne finally talk. From there on, a friendship starts which leads to a romantic relationship but unfortunately it's never plain sailing.

Despite having the nice house and money, Marianne's childhood wasn't a happy one and she struggles a lot as a teenager because of it, meaning she finds it hard to accept a normal relationship and Connell cares too much about what people think, wanting to hide the relationship. Many things tear the two of them away from each other over the years yet they somehow always find their way again. You can't deny the chemistry between them from the very beginning. I utterly adored both of them. They weren't perfect, they both had flaws but it was just so raw and real. Their relationship was intense and heartbreaking, uncomfortable and even hard to read at some points but also beautiful. Two people who needed each other but weren't always able to communicate that. Marianne and Connell are just two very special characters who I really felt for and I don't think I've ever rooted for a couple to make it work as much as I did for these two.

Onto Sally Rooney's writing now which I found was really unique. It felt comfortable from the beginning, despite their being no speech marks which I thought was a little odd but within a page or two, I got used to it. This also had quite a few time jumps throughout which I'm not always a fan of but I actually didn't mind them with Normal People. Even if we moved 7 months on or so, Sally would always fill in the gaps so nothing was missed. I'm also not a fan of really long chapters and can find them a drag but this was perfect. Short and snappy chapters really keep my attention but these were long enough that you still get plenty of detail too.

The interesting thing about Normal People is that to me it doesn't particularly fit into one genre. A lot of it is centered around Connell and Marianne's relationship obviously but it's not always the main focus. So much of it is about them both finding their own ways in the world, accepting their flaws and confronting their demons and in a lot of ways it's not always a happy book. Anxiety and depression are spoken about too and I personally think Sally handled each subject perfectly.

So let's bring this long, rambly review to end. Connell and Marianne aren't your typical characters but I grew to love them and I felt incredibly sad to close the book. They just felt so human and relatable. No one is perfect and no relationship is either and I felt Sally portrayed that perfectly. Whilst this may be a love it or hate it book in some people's eyes, if you've not read it, I urge you to give it a chance. It's now the book to beat in my 2020 reading challenge and something impressive is going to have to come along to knock it off the top spot. I also highly recommend the TV adaptation too!

Have you read Normal People? or seen the TV show? Would love to know your thoughts if so!

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20 comments

Sarah Trademark said...

I keep meaning to find some new books to read so thanks for the recommendation! xx

Lisa's Notebook said...

I have to be honest, I watched about 30 minutes of the BBC adaptation of this and had to turn it off, it wasn't for me at all. And until now I haven't read a review that's changed my mind. But after reading yours, I might just have to put this on my TBR pile in a while, once the memory of the BBC version has faded a little! Great review, Tiffany, you give nothing away but you make it sound intriguing :) xx

Lisa | https://www.lisasnotebook.com

Kelly~Diane said...

I've been looking for some new recommendations so I'm going to add this one to my TBR list. I love reading books that still have you thinking about them weeks later

aoibhneastravels said...

Is it as cliche Teenage Love Story As It Seems? The people I know who have read this don't understand that there's usually two types of teenage love stories – the one where boy and girl secretly like each other but the boys popular and won't admit that he likes the unpopular girl and that causes all kinds of disruption in and then they eventually overcome and get together or it becomes some sort of Revenge versus gratitude where the woman is scorned and tries to make herself butter from it instead of a victim of it.

Riana Ang-Canning said...

I'm so hesitant to read this one. I read her other book, Conversations with Friends, and really didn't like it. I was so thrown off without the quotation marks and really didn't like the plot or characters. So I just don't think I can do another one of her books or the show. But have heard great things so maybe I will have to give it another try...

jennyinneverland said...

I've heard loads of people talking about this book and series lately! I definitely will give the series a go. Great review! x

Sophie said...

I'm glad I read this! I've seen loads of people talking about this book but I had no idea what it was about. It sounds like a pleasant read, it's great that it kept you gripped enough to read it in a day. Her writing style sounds interesting x

Sophie
www.glowsteady.co.uk

Hannah said...

I've heard a lot of people talk about this, so I may have to give it a go. You never know until you try right?xx

Hannah | https://luxuryblush.co.uk/

Alice In Sheffield said...

I adored the book and found the tv adaptation truly brilliant too I highly recommend both

Tiffany Timms said...

No problem! I hope you enjoy this xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Thank you Lisa! It's so hard not to give any spoilers when it's a story you love so much! I really hope you give it another chance one day but I can definitely see why it's not for everyone! xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Yay I hope you enjoy! I just can't this one out of my mind xx

Tiffany Timms said...

I suppose it is a little but I kind of like stories like that! There's so much about it though that is very relatable and true to real life. Connell definitely does what you've just said but not to be unkind. Just two people who don't quite know how to communicate their feelings! xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Ooh I can't seem to get my hands on Conversations With Friends anywhere! I'm desperate to read it after loving this but it is another book I've heard mixed reviews about. Sally Rooney's writing seems to really divide people. I think the show is done really well though so maybe you'd enjoy that? xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Thanks Jenny! I hope you enjoy if you give it a read xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Sally's writing is definitely different to other books I've read so it took a little while to get used to. In the end I didn't notice it though so would definitely read more from her in future xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Absolutely! It seems to be a book that really divides people but I'm definitely in the club of people who loved it xx

Tiffany Timms said...

I can't wait to watch the series again! I can't remember the last time I was so invested in characters like this before xx

Mollie said...

This is on my TBR list! Having to avoid all of the TV show snippets so I don't spoil it!

Mollie | https://mollieclarke.co.uk

Shuana said...

I started the show a while back but haven't finished it because I don't think it's a happy ending and I just love them together. Thinking of reading the book because I see good reviews. Maybe I should give it a go!

Thank you for sharing your review ☺️

Shuana
www.howivebeen.com

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