2019 Random House Audio
Read by Aoife McMahon
Finished on August 28, 2020
Rating: 1/5 (Poor)
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.
Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.
It is extremely rare for me to give a book a 1-star rating. If my reaction is that negative, I normally quit reading long before I reach the end of the book. And yet, when listening to an audiobook, I'm more inclined to push through, hoping for a turn in the story or a redeeming quality in a particular character, which would make my persistence to forge ahead worthwhile. This was not the case with Normal People. Each day, as I headed outside for my walk, I went with the realization that I was simply biding my time with the book, listening only to reach the end; to discover what lay ahead for Connell and Marianne and to see if Sally Rooney had left the best for last. Perhaps an unexpected twist that would make it all worthwhile.
The only positive remark I can make is that Normal People is a fairly quick read. The negative? A weak (almost nonexistent) plot with tedious details of everyday occurrences. Unlikable, unrelatable and annoying characters. Angst-ridden and navel-gazing young adults who are in an on-again-off-again relationship that made absolutely no sense to me.
I am truly surprised that so many readers gave this book such high praise and I wonder if I'm not the target audience. It would be interesting to sit in on a book club discussion and hear why some readers enjoyed it, while others found is loathsome.
It will take a great amount of persuasion to convince me to watch the TV series, which is based on this unsatisfying and over-hyped novel.
In a word, this book was boring. Can I get my week back?!