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Katia Reviews "Normal People" by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney’s Normal People is a beautiful novel about the complex, enduring relationship between two strange, sensitive young friends (and sometimes lovers). Marianne and Connell are very different from each other, but each struggles in their own way with isolation from their peers and the distinct feeling that they are somehow failing at being a “normal person.”

This book is an intimate, perceptive examination of two people who are obsessed with each other, even as they maintain other relationships, fight, pull away, and come back together again. Rooney renders her characters with sharp dialogue and close, intimate examinations of their inner worlds--neither is held above the other. There is a sparseness to her writing that leaves the outside world up to the imagining of the reader, but provides rich insight into the minds of two strange, complicated people. Marianne and Connell may not be the most relatable characters, but their relationship with each other is deep and complex. Normal People is concerned with the gritty, sometimes ugly things in our brains that most of us never share with anyone. It asks: what does it mean to be a “normal person,” and how much of that is tied up with perceptions of class, the “ideal” family, and gender? In this way, the name of the book is cheeky: Marianne and Connell constantly strive for a normalness that they cannot seem to ever obtain, both because it doesn’t exist, and because they are not “normal” people at all. They each strive to be acceptable, palatable, and understood in their own ways, but ultimately find that there are much more important things than this. Sometimes, when they can put aside their insecurities and really pay attention, they find that, in each other, they have had what they’ve been seeking all along.

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