“Normal People” by Sally Rooney

We close this Best Sellers month with a bang. So to speak.

What is it about?

This is the story of Connell and Marianne during a couple of years of their lives, from their last year at secondary school, in Sligo somewhere, to university in Dublin. Not much more to tell here (you can already start seeing where I am going with this…)

What makes it good?

I started off liking this book since it there was a big focus on the interior thoughts and emotions of these two teenagers, their anxiety and their issues.

Things started getting sour for me when the two go to university. Both characters are not particularly likeable, but that does not mean necessarily anything per se. I do not find, however, anything particularly new about the “I am a bit of a spoiled and emotionally fragile rich girl with a difficult home life” versus the “I am a poor but overall sound and intelligent guy from the block” narrative. The more I read, the more I did not see why this was acclaimed as such a masterpiece.

I do not think it is a generational thing, I have plenty of friends in that age range and I can’t say I see them represented here. What I see, however, is a lot of old tropes thrown around that have very little to do with “the new generations”. (Also, I have always and I always will call bullshit on this “new generation” motif. Yes, times change and yes, we face different issues, but there are always issues one way or another and we are all young, at some point, and angry).

The style

I was so angry with the author that I could not appreciate much of her writing skills. I did not think that it was the best written novel ever, or the worst. Her style did not bring anything to the table. I quite liked her almost Japanese way of describing emotions, but still, my thoughts were mainly “I would really love to go to this Marianne and tell her to shnap out of it. I know that I said that the main characters not being nice does not necessarily mean anything bad and yet, fuck I hated them both. I could not sympathize one tiny bit, and there is no amount of well written prose that will make me change my mind.

Final Mark

You see, I really felt like our Sally, here, wanted all of us to know that she can write and be deep and be the voice of her generation. No Sally, you do not fool me. Your wanky and angsty attitude seems to me only a façade and in the same way I found Lenu’ real and her misgivings and her troubles with the “intelligentia” very well portrayed, everything about these two reeks of staged. So, to put it in a Cherish gif:

3/10

On Goodreads.

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