*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Normal People
Author: Sally Rooney
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Connell Waldron is one of the most popular boys in his small-town high school. The one thing he doesn’t have is money. Marianne Sheridan is plain-looking, odd, and stubborn, and while her family is well-off, she has no friends to speak of. There is, however, a deep and undeniable connection between the two teenagers, one that develops into a secret relationship. Everything changes when both Connell and Marianne are accepted to Trinity College. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle each other, falling in and out of romance but never straying far from where they started. And as Marianne experiments with an increasingly dangerous string of boyfriends, Connell must decide how far he is willing to go to save his oldest friend.
Normal People is not a happy story, but it’s an honest and raw story about human emotion, struggle, and flaws. Marianne comes from wealth, but her life is far darker and she battles demons that keep her isolated from her peers. Connell is poor, but his looks and charisma keep him firmly situated in the popular crowd. Their high school years are full of a secret and passionate affair that shape their relationship for the rest of their lives. Both are afraid of intimacy and are deeply affected by their internal struggles so they keep one another just far enough to keep romance from blooming. There are too many factors at play and their relationship only grows more complicated as the years pass.
Rooney is an incredibly talented writer. While neither one of her characters is particularly likeable, her story is enticing and relatable. There is no real plot, but the story follows these characters as they interact with others and display their deepest secrets for the reader. This story is almost voyeuristic in it’s rawness. The reader is party to Marianne and Connell’s darkest moments of difficult. Things don’t always work out for the better. This story is real, and that’s not always pleasant. It’s not a book with a happy ending.
At the root of this story is truly that there is no such thing as normal. These two characters teach the reader that to the outside world, everything can seem a particular way, but at home and in those private spaces or with those closest people–when we are at our most vulnerable moments–every person has tribulations that direct their life in one way or another. These struggles make each and everyone person not particularly normal, and perhaps we’re all “normal” in that regard. Our shared triumphs and failures create a commonality in life, but each person lives their own unique life in their own particular way. Marianne and Connell demonstrate to the reader that those who love us will stick by us no matter our struggles. Sometimes it’s impossible to put our insecurities aside to let those who love us most in. Normal People