Normal People - Is it worth the hype?
If you didn't hear anything about Normal People over the last year then it's likely you could have been under a rock. The best-selling novel from Irish author Sally Rooney was made into a BBC TV show last April and ever since, both the novel and show have blown up.
Normal People was the second novel by Sally Rooney, her first being Conversations with Friends which I preferred to Normal People. However, one thing is certain - I adore Sally Rooney's writing.
A lot of people turned their nose up at Normal People, calling it the new Fifty Shades of Grey - however, when you read this book you will understand that there is so much more to it than just sex.
One teething problem many people have with Sally Rooney's writing is the lack of speech marks, I think this is something you get used to though once you're into it. Why there are no speech marks in her writing isn't something I can say I understand, my only 'theory', if you will, is that she removes the distance between the reader and the characters, so it's like reliving a memory etc but that's just my opinion!
Marianne and Connell both attend the same school in Ireland but live very separate lives. Marianne falls under the radar at school, only known for her arguments with teachers. Connell is one of the most popular boys at the school. The two are brought together when Connell's mother takes up a job cleaning at Marianne's home, which is where the two embark on their romantic journey. Following them through different phases of life, the book explores their relationship as they go through different life events and how they still come together.
I think Normal People is a glorious book. I can completely appreciate the negative criticisms of how the book mostly focuses on Marianne and Connell with little perspective from other characters in the book or how there is very little character development with the other characters. However, I think this is vital to the book as it is a reflection of how Marianne and Connell see each other - no one else matters, so long as the other is there.
The book touches on themes which you will notice are patterns within Rooney's writing, such as class, politics and distant family relationships. One of the key factors in this book is how class separates Marianne and Connell, which also heavily affects how they interact with each other. Marianne and Connell highlight these themes within each other, Connell's relationship with his mother highlights the distance between Marianne and her family. Marianne's family wealth highlights Connell's lack of money.
Whilst the book isn't necessarily the most fast-paced I've ever read, I believe the perspective of different years of life is important to show how both Marianne and Connell grow, both with each other and independently.
"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."
"No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why not."
"But for her, the pain of loneliness will be nothing to the pain that she used to feel, of being unworthy. He brought her goodness like a gift and now it belongs to her."
"Life is the thing you bring with you inside your own head".
I highly recommend any of Sally Rooney's writing to any reader, I feel like it can be enjoyed no matter what your level of reading is. Rooney is also bringing out a new novel in September which I can't wait to get stuck into.
Have you read Normal People or watched the TV show? Let me know your thoughts on my social! I also have a YouTube video comparing the tv show with the book, which you can check out here.