Normal People by Sally Rooney - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 16 Nov 2020 by  in Archive Read 3467

I was given Normal People as a gift by my parents after they watched the adaptation of this story of Sally Rooney’s. I have never read anything like this, and was not sure what to expect. But I was intrigued, and so I started it. Never did I expect that I would finish it within 48 hours and love it!

Normal People really is true to the title. And that is why it is brilliant. It is a story of Normal People in realistic circumstances who have a relatable life. Marianne and Connell are the two central protagonists, from Ireland. The story begins with their college years, and then advances through their experiences throughout university. And the way their personalities develop and regress and change, making them grow apart and yet simultaneously together. It was an amazing story to read.

“Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn't know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it.”

This may perhaps be the most well formed romance I have read in fiction. Many novels suffer from this being forced or rushed or unnatural, which is understandable given the limitations of time to grow a story in a matter of pages. But Normal People really delivered a warming and wrenching relationship that was believable and so realistic, with unexpected peaks and troughs, unique problems separating them and life presenting constant tribulations.

The prose was one of the strong points of this story. As soon as I was a few pages, I was sucked in. The natural energy of the prose was magnetic and allowed me to glide from one page to the next, living the journey with the characters. It really was so easy to read, with an incredible fluid nature, but at the same time made me consciously think about what was occurring. I thought the pacing was just perfect, allowing me to be swept along with the story, but allowing pauses exactly when needed to contemplate the events that had just unraveled. Just brilliant!

“It feels powerful to him to put an experience down in words, like he's trapping it in a jar and it can never fully leave him.”

The plot wasn’t grand or epic or crazy. It was real life. And that was perfect. With some shocking events that happen to only a few people, but also the norms. The occasions and trials so many people go through. It was the manner in which the plot was delivered that made it brilliant. It wasn’t romanticised or melodramatic. It was perfect for the type of story that it is.

Not only were attachments formed with the two central protagonists, but also with the supporting characters. Sally Rooney really masterfully established characters with such depth just within a manner of scenes that developed a number of layers, as every person really does. One example is Lorraine, who was one of my favourites. She has quite a small amount of time on the page, yet she is so memorable, and understandable, and loveable.

“Life offers up these moments of joy despite everything”

Overall, I cannot do this justice. I hope I have managed to project my love and respect for this story. Along with crafting such a brilliant journey, Rooney also forms one that will linger on the mind for weeks and months to come. Even now, months after finishing, I still think about specific scenes and characters and come to understand the story further. Normal People is essentially a beautifully told story about relationships with those around us.

Even if this is not the usual story you would choose to read, or you don’t feel intrigued by the blurb, please just read this. I felt the same. Do yourself a favour and read this. 

Now I have finished reading Normal People, I will go on to watch the BBC adaptation, which is apparently equally as brilliant.



Last modified on Monday, 23 May 2022 15:45

William is from Sussex, UK.

He has a passion for literature and enjoys reading all sorts of books. His hobbies are numerous and consist of medieval/viking reenactment, writing, karate and of course reading.