***.5= three stars (MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)

WHY I CHOSE IT: ‘Normal People’ is another award-winning novel with great reviews, which is why I decided to buy it. Also, it was “buy one, get one half price” when I picked up ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’…

THE PLOT: ‘Normal People’ is about two teenagers in Ireland who have a complicated on and off relationship. Marianne and Connell go to the same high school but they’re in completely different social groups. When they start fooling around, Connell is initially ashamed of Marianne and doesn’t want any of his friends to know. However, their relationship develops when they both attend the same University in Dublin. The novel follows the two protagonists over the years as they face a range of complex personal issues yet are continually drawn to each other.

MY RATING: I’ve only rated this book three and a half stars because I didn’t strongly connect with it. The plot covered a lot of issues, such as abusive families and sexual abuse, class and social standing, and suicide and depression. These were deftly handled as they were woven into the background of the story, which focused on the relationship between Marianne and Connell. However, I thought the plot was a bit simplistic at its core. The main characters are portrayed as star-crossed lovers who are destined to be together, which became tiresome towards the end. It began to feel like the author was throwing un-realistic obstacles in their path to prolong the inevitable. Also, the abuse storyline in the background didn’t have a big enough climax, and I expected an additional revelation about Marianne’s father, who is deceased at the start of the novel.

My favourite aspect was the unconventional writing style. The author, Sally Rooney, alternates perspective between each of the protagonists, which is done very successfully, and there are no quotation marks for direct speech. However, I sometimes found it difficult to follow the long passages of unmarked speech and understand who was the focus of each chapter.

Overall, I understand why people love this book and why its style has led the author to win lots of awards. It was an enjoyable, quick read; however, it wasn’t 100% my taste.


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