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Normal People Paperback – 2 May 2019
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The best novel published this year. (The Times)
A future classic. (Guardian)
Quite astonishing. (Independent)
The most enjoyable novel of the year. (Daily Telegraph)
The best young novelist - indeed one of the best novelists - I've read in years. (Olivia Laing New Statesman)
Rooney has given us a spellbinding twenty-first-century love story, and asserted herself as one of the major young writers in the English-speaking world. (TLS)
Effortlessly brilliant . . . tender and devastating. (Guardian Books of the Year)
The best book I read last year. (Nigella Lawson)
Best novel this year by a country mile is Normal People by Sally Rooney . . . Brilliant. (Spectator Books of the Year)
Love, sex, class, work, miscommunication and melancholy are all described in prose that is somehow at once lapidary and mysterious; glittering but with the feeling of something moving like weather behind the sentences. (New Statesman Books of the Year)
The Number One Sunday Times Bestseller and Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2018, now in paperback.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.