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Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I had been hearing loads about this book since the beginning of the year, and then it got longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction and I knew I wanted to read it. I requested it at the library; it was out at the time and had two more requests on it, but it finally came through to me and I picked it up last week. I took it away with me on holiday and I'm glad I did, the beginning had me a bit confused and I was glad to have the focus to read on holiday.

I think it had me a bit confused because there's no speech marks used in the book, so it sometimes can be hard to work out who's speaking, and what is speech and what is inner thoughts. I get that this is a deliberate choice, but I'm not sure it really paid off completely for me. I got on with it and by the end didn't notice much, but it is jarring to begin with.

So anyway the book starts in Sligo in Ireland, where Connell and Marianne live in the same small town. They're in the same year at school and are both set to do well in their exams. Connell's mum Lorraine is Marianne's mother's cleaner. Marianne's family is quite well off, but her life isn't happy. Her brother is very abusive and at school she's bullied and ignored. She's quite cold at the beginning of the book, but it makes sense in context of her family.

Connell, meanwhile, is popular and good looking and plays on the school football team. He's quite a thoughtful person, though, I really loved him as a character. His mum is a single parent. He and Marianne start having sex, but Connell never tells any of his friends about it. Marianne encourages him to apply to Trinity college in Dublin, which he does. Everything's going well until their Debs ball and Marianne ends up upset.

The two make friends again in Dublin and start up their relationship again. The book follows them throughout their university years and how they just seem to keep coming back to each other. I liked the open ending, it felt just like life really.

There's a lot missing from the book, stuff which I would have liked to read, but I understand that it's not that kind of book, it's more of a concept than a straightforward narrative. I did like it - I'm giving it four stars out of five. The setting was vividly drawn and I loved both main characters. I'd definitely read something else by Sally!


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