Longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, Normal People by Sally Rooney is a book you’ve probably seen near the top of most ‘best fiction’ lists this year, and it’s for good reason. Rooney’s second novel takes readers on an eventful journey that dives into the morality of love and attraction.
Normal People doesn’t follow a typical plot sequence. The entire novel is focussed on the complicated relationship of Connell and Marianne, who have known each other since they were young. Connell’s mum is a cleaner for Marianne’s household, and this causes a degree of division between the pair since they’re of different classes. Marianne is also considered by her peers as an ‘outcast’ and Connell’s self-conscious nature leads to them never talking to each other within the restraints of school. They, however, begin to feel a growing attraction to one another, and this eventuates into a sexual relationship between the pair. The rest of the book follows their connection and the ways they continually find each other, even after months apart. The book’s summary may sound like a romance novel, but it isn’t, in fact, the two spend the majority of the book far apart.
Rooney’s characters are also complex, and you find yourself glued to their growth as individuals and not as a pair. Marianne’s resilience is one of her many strengths as a character. She has little concern for what people say about her, and though she was often isolated in high school, this put her in a position to quickly adapt to new surroundings and people. Connell, who was confident in high school, is the more fragile of the two. Though he was popular in school, he’s unable to find his place in the real world once it’s over. Both their growth (and sometimes their moments of fragility) makes for a magnetic reading experience. Despite their differences, Connell and Marianne and dynamic characters who undergo an immense amount of change as time progresses.
Though the book sporadically jumps between unsequenced time periods, you’re able to pick up exactly where you left the characters, even if there are seven months between chapters or a mere five minutes. Each jump in time marks a new significant life change, but their fierce attraction and connection continue to remain.
If you plan of reading Normal People, I recommend taking your time reading it. A novel this superb deserves to be devoured delicately.
Release date: August 28th 2018 by Faber & Faber
Release date: 5/5