Normal People Hardcover – 30 Aug 2018
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It is time to take a sharp inhale, people. Sally Rooney has produced a second novel, Normal People. It is superb . . . a tremendous read, full of insight and sweetness. (Anne Enright Guardian)
Magnificent . . . Rooney is the best young novelist - indeed one of the best novelists - I've read in years. (Olivia Laing New Statesman)
Astonishingly fresh . . . Rooney is such a gifted, brave and adventurous writer, so exceptionally good at observing the lies people tell themselves on the deepest level, in noting how much we forgive, and above all in portraying love . . . [Normal People] is a future classic. (Kate Clanchy Observer)
One the best novels I have read in years. Sally Rooney understands the complexities of love, its radical intimacy, and how power is always shifting between people, and she tells her story in a way that feels new and old at the same time. It is intelligent, spare and mesmerising, and it sent me back to an earlier point in my life in such a vivid and real way, reanimating for me with that period of time (first love), which I had thought was lost to me forever, but which felt born again in the form of this book. (Sheila Heti, author of MOTHERHOOD and HOW SHOULD A PERSON BE)
I couldn't put Normal People down - I didn't think I could love it as much as Conversations with Friends, but I did. Sally Rooney is a treasure. I can't wait to see what she does next. (Elif Batuman, author of THE POSSESSED and THE IDIOT)
It's all I want to talk about . . . How brilliant to feel so excited about a new novel . . . I'm pleased but unsurprised to report that Normal People is even better. It should obviously win [the Booker Prize]. The best novel published this year. (Times)
Rooney writes so well of the condition of being a young, gifted but self-destructive woman, both the mentality and physicality of it. She is alert to the invisible bars imprisoning the apparently free. Her hyperarticulate characters may fail to communicate their fragile selves, but Rooney does it for them in a voice distinctively her own. (Guardian)
Rooney shares with [Sylvia] Plath a knack for particularising a feminine consciousness, and this novel is the best I've read on what it means to be young and female right now. (Daily Mail)
Fascinating, ferocious and shrewd. Sally Rooney has the sharpest eye for all of the most delicate cruelties of human interaction. (Lisa McInerney)
Normal People shines . . . it is totally exhilarating in its naturalness, as easy as thinking and as real as experiencing. It's easy to tumble through its first 30 pages without feeling like you have so much as blinked, so instantly comfortable and totally intoxicating is Rooney's prose, and her rendering of an enduring love. It is an undeniably important novel about how we feel and how we relate, to each other and to ourselves. Read it and feel grateful and changed afterwards - as though you have learned something worthwhile about yourself. (VICE)
The highly anticipated second novel from the most talked-about novelist in years.
Sally Rooney set the books world buzzing with her debut Conversations With Friends; Normal People is a girl-meets-boy story with a difference, interrogating the difficulties of sincere communication in a complicated, post-ironic world. It's even more unusual and assured than her first book.See all Product description
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The Guardian praised it as "a future classic".
Elif Batuman, author of my favourite "The Idiot" said: "I couldn't put "Normal People" down - I didn't think I could love it as much as "Conversations with Friends", but I did. Sally Rooney is a treasure. I can't wait to see what she does next."
For me it was a no (a NO!!!). I'm feeling tired just thinking about explaining myself and the annoyance, disappointment and... almost hurt I experienced while reading "Normal People". I want my money back!
Throughout the book I kept thinking why, why is this not working for me? Why I'm becoming more and more annoyed? Why don't I care? Why?? Maybe because I am no longer a target audience of the book.
Nice enough writing and observations but somewhat dull and infantile. The very notion of the two people, seemingly perfect for each other, ruining each other's lives over and over again drove me mad. It became repetitive, then it became boring. I just could not stand reading about on-off relationship of these young damaged adults while such important matters like domestic abuse, depression and mental health in general were hugely overlooked.
I really cannot see why the novel made it to the Man Booker Prize longlist. And yes, perhaps it's not a one star book but at this point, this is what I feel.
You know what I reminded me of? Rupi Kaur and her poetry.
It is clearly written by a young person with little life experience and it lacks depth. I didn't feel that the characters were "real" and didn't really care what happened to them.
I'm sorry to write such a poor review and I'm sure that Sally Rooney will develop as a writer and produce some better work.
First up: UGH PUNCTUATION. I hate this no-quotation-marks style. Hated it when Cormac McCarthy used it, hate it now. I know it's a stylistic thing, but... well, I guess I'll just say it's not a style I like.
Normal People is a story of abuse. It's the story of Marianne who goes from terrible relationship to terrible relationship and allows herself to be abused because it's all she's ever known. In a way, it's gripping because you just want Marianne to get out of this, get out of all this crap she's living with, but she just goes from bad to worse. Everything in her life is tied around Connell and his acceptance/rejection of her, and it's ridiculous because even though he doesn't actually hit her or anything, it's obvious (to me, at least) that he's an oblivious idiot who is obviously using Marianne for his own benefit. It's not to say that she didn't get anything out of it--she did--but if this is what relationships are like in the 21st century, I'm glad I'm not in one. Maybe I'm too prudish for this book. Marianne has a warped idea of "submission" and part of the story veers into something BDSM-like relationships, except Marianne did not seem to like it very much, even if she somehow craved it.
On the other side, it also explores Connell's anxiety and depression, and how desperately he needs Marianne in his life to make him feel normal and in control, even though he's seeing/dating other people. It's just... messed up.
The shifting timelines--each chapter jumps a few months, and then hops back a little to cover important missed events--was sometimes a little confusing. The constant segueing between present tense and past tense feels fluid at times, but awkward at times. Maybe I'm not a very close reader but with all the jumps, it gives the book a very floating/fluid feel, and I sometimes don't really know when it is anymore.
All in all, Normal People is a dark, stark look at relationships and youth in Ireland.
I guess the writing is good and all, I just didn't like the subject matter very much.