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REVIEW: Normal People

‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know why I can’t be like normal people.’

Why Did I Read This Book?

Named as the ‘literary phenomenon of the decade’ and deemed as a ‘future classic’, why in the world have I only just got round to reading Sally Rooney’s Normal People? I always tend to steer away from romantic novels and I have to admit that this book had never really excited me. That was until I saw an article on how Sally Rooney became the youngest novelist to be nominated in the Best Novel Category at the Costa Awards. So I thought it was time to see what all of the hype was about.

What Did I Think?

What I love the most about this book is the portrayal of relationships in the modern-day. There were times when I could completely relate to the events and thoughts of the two protagonists, Marriane and Connell. Perhaps that’s because I’ve had the pleasure (or not) of dating during the surge of social media and ‘casual’ relationships. 

The heartbreaking and honest depiction of being young and in love reassures you as the reader that what you went through when you were in high school and college was common amongst nearly everyone. Some of the relationships that both Marianne and Connell go through, not just romantically but with family and friendships, are far from perfect and it’s so fascinating to go along their journey to happiness with them.

‘Life offers up these moments of joy despite everything.’

What was truly upsetting to me was that both characters go through moments where they are struggling with where they are in life. That they feel they should have ‘normal’ lives as everyone else does. They should have a good job. A loving relationship. A house. Maybe even a family. But because they are far from achieving any of these, they feel disconnected from their friends and society. And that’s what makes this book so genuine because you know what Sally Rooney is talking about. You know you’ve had those moments where you’ve compared your life to others and perhaps thought that yours was as far from ‘typical’. 

Yet that’s what’s so magical about this elegant love story. Two people finding happiness when everything else seems lost. I hope that Sally Rooney never stops writing novels like this, and it’s safe to say that her debut book, Conversations With Friends, has earned itself a top spot on my reading list.

‘It’s funny the decisions you make because you like someone, and then your whole life is different. I think we’re at that weird age where life can change a lot from small decisions.’