By Sally Rooney
Marianne and Connell are high school seniors in a small town in Ireland. Both are impressive students- but Connell is popular with the other kids in his high school class and Marianne is a complete loner. Since Connell’s mom works as a cleaning lady in Marianne’s house they slowly begin a friendship of sorts. They end up at the same college and we watch this relationship evolve over the years. “Being alone with her was like opening a door away from normal life and then closing it behind him.”What did it make me think about?
So this novel explores some fascinating questions. One of my favorite sayings over the last several years is, “We are the stories we tell ourselves.” No novel captures the essence of this phrase as well as Normal People. Marianne and Connell both make up narratives to explain the behavior of the people around them. Often these narratives are wrong. We also see how isolated individuals can feel- even when they are in relationships. The book also explores how relationships in our formative years can influence our future choices. Fascinating stuff!
Should I read it?
YES! Marianne and Connell are both flawed characters- but two of my favorite characters in a long time. This story is all about relationships and I found it thought provoking and extraordinary. This novel would make a great discussion book! Great summer book- beach, rainy day, anywhere!!!
“Not for the first time Marianne thinks cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently. You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.”