Book Review

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Format: Paperback
Author: Sally Rooney
Pages: 273
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Publishing Company: Hogarth Press
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Literary Fiction


*sexual assault, domestic abuse, drug use, depression, anxiety, suicide & suicidal ideation*

Goodreads Synopsis

At school, Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

My Review

“It’s funny the decisions you make because you like someone, he says, and then your whole life is different. I think we’re at that weird age where life can change a lot from small decisions.”

Normal People still has a lot of hype around it, especially now the BBC TV adaptation has been released and I just couldn’t and still can’t get away from it. I had book bloggers telling me to read it, I had them telling me not to read it. I had my friends and family telling me to watch the TV show adaptation. But now, I’m the one forcing everyone to read and watch it. It has very quickly become one of my favourite reads and watches of 2020. (Along with so many others) I have read so many 4 or 5 star books recently and this is definitely near the top!

If you haven’t read it, I would very much recommend it if you like a complicated love story as well as drama and everything in between.

The Story

“Most people go through their whole lives, without ever really feeling that close with anyone.”

On the first page, we are introduced to the main characters, Marianne and Connel. I love how Rooney jumps straight into the interaction between them both. We get an insight into their characters before the story has even begun.

I adore the writing style throughout the book and the many jumps through time. More information relating to Marianne and Connel’s relationship is constantly being revealed and I couldn’t help myself saying ‘Just one more chapter’ at 4am. Just like any other love story, it can be extremely frustrating. Connel and Marianne’s relationship isn’t as straight forward as you might think. Rooney dives deeper into these character’s emotions a lot more than other romance novel’s. She explores social class, loss, tragedy, abuse, lust as well as love and acceptance. There is a lot packed into this book, but I would like to say I enjoyed every second of it, but it can be quite dark in parts and a lot of tears may have stained my cheeks. If you love a book that makes you feel raw emotion and well cry, I can’t think of a better book than this one to recommend you right now.

The Characters

“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.”

Marianne is a smart, loner from a wealthy family but with physical and emotional abuse at home. Connel, a popular, likeable football player who suffers with anxiety. They both share this pain which naturally turns into attraction and lust. It’s hard not to like Marianne and Connel. You can’t help but be invested in their character’s or feel what emotions they feel. We see them both grow and mature from high school seniors to young adults.

Even though they are completely different people and drift apart through college, they always find a way back to each other. With roles reversing and Marianne becoming popular, Connel struggles to fit in. But their relationship is so wholesome and supportive they seem to lean on each other to stop them from falling apart.

Overall Thoughts

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, says Marianne. I don’t know why I can’t be like normal people.”

As a character-driven story, some plots are introduced and go away without much explanation. This didn’t bother me at all but if you are a lover of a plot-driven story, this may not be the book for you. Hence the number of mixed reviews! I can happily say that I loved this book. I enjoyed the twisty, tragic love story that takes place and I was extremely satisfied with the ending.

After finishing the book, I couldn’t wait to watch the TV show. I am rarely excited about television/film adaptation as I am normally disappointed. I will be doing a mini-review for the Television show incase any of you wanted to know how it compared to the book! So watch out for that next week.

Rating: 4.5/5

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Buy the book here!

*this is an affiliate link, I may earn a small commission if bought through this link*

I would love to know your thoughts on Normal People, were you a lover or a hater of the book?

Manchester blogger with a passion for reading, writing and travelling. I always have a book or a cup of tea in my hand.


22 September 2020 at 12:55 pm

I absolutely love your book reviews! Another great blog again. Cannot wait for the next one!!

23 September 2020 at 1:19 pm

I loved Normal People! Marianne and Connel were both difficult and not-likable in different ways and their relationship with each other just felt really real… I know not a lot “happens,” as far as plot, but I loved the way they developed in parallel with each other. And the writing felt fantastic, to me.

23 September 2020 at 1:27 pm

Great review! I’ve heard a lot of mixed thoughts about this. It sounds really interesting. I absolutely love the cover. I didn’t realize it was also a tv show! I’ll have to check that out too!!! Off to add this to my TBR


24 September 2020 at 8:55 pm

I’ve heard contrasting thoughts about this one, but I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Ellie! Great review

30 September 2020 at 3:21 pm

Great review! It’s always a joy when the story is compelling and the writing style inspires.

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