Normal People by Sally Rooney follows the on-and-off relationship between main characters Connell and Marianne from their final year of high school in a small town in Ireland to their time at Trinity College in Dublin. Connell is a popular high school athlete from a working-class family who is struggling to find his place in society, while Marianne is an outsider from a wealthy family who is ostracized by her peers due to her family’s reputation. Despite their different social statuses, Connell and Marianne are drawn to each other, and their relationship develops and changes over time. As the book follows them through high school and then to college, they go through periods of intense closeness and then periods of distance, with miscommunications and misunderstandings often driving them apart. Rooney’s writing style is both eloquent and minimalist, capturing the raw emotions of the characters with ease.
The novel’s structure is unconventional, with short chapters and no quotation marks, adding to the overall feeling of intimacy between the reader and the characters. Throughout the novel, Rooney explores themes of love, friendship, social class, power dynamics, and the impacts of trauma. The plot is character-driven with focus on the internal struggles and personal growth of the two main characters. Overall, Normal People is a beautifully written novel that is sure to resonate with readers, especially those who enjoy character-driven plots. Rooney’s skillful handling of complex themes and characters make this a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary literature.