Normal People: A Novel by Sally RooneyNormal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney

Normal People: A Novel

bySally Rooney

Hardcover | April 16, 2019

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LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE: A wondrously wise, genuinely unputdownable new novel from Sally Rooney, winner of the 2017 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award (at 26, tied with Zadie Smith for the youngest-ever recipient)--the quintessential coming-of-age love story for our time.

Connell Waldron is one of the most popular boys in his small-town high school--he is a star of the football team, an excellent student, and never wanting for attention from girls. The one thing he doesn't have is money. Marianne Sheridan, a classmate of Connell's, has the opposite problem. Marianne is plain-looking, odd, and stubborn, and while her family is well-off, she has no friends to speak of. There is, however, a deep and undeniable connection between the two teenagers, one that develops into a secret relationship.
     Everything changes when both Connell and Marianne are accepted to Trinity College. Suddenly Marianne is well-liked and elegant, holding court with her intellectual friends while Connell hangs at the sidelines, not quite as fluent in language of the elite. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle each other, falling in and out of romance but never straying far from where they started. And as Marianne experiments with an increasingly dangerous string of boyfriends, Connell must decide how far he is willing to go to save his oldest friend.
     Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a novel that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the inescapable challenges of family and friendships. Normal People is a book that you will read in one sitting, and then immediately share with your friends.
SALLY ROONEY was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta,The White Review, The Dublin Review, The Stinging Fly, Kevin Barry's Stonecutter and The Winter Page anthology. Rooney's debut novel, Conversations with Friends, was a Sunday Times, Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard...
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Title:Normal People: A NovelFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:288 pages, 8.51 × 5.78 × 0.98 inShipping dimensions:8.51 × 5.78 × 0.98 inPublished:April 16, 2019Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0735276471

ISBN - 13:9780735276475

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Disappointing Read Having read so much hype about this book I was anxious to read it. I found the book very uninteresting and wonder why so many people have praised it. Neither main character is particularly enticing, and page after page, the story seemed to go nowhere. While I appreciate that the author is telling a story about a youthful generation and how members of this generation relate to each other, I found the story boring. Very disappointing!
Date published: 2019-05-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable A good read from someone who actually read the book. Good plot development, nice character evolution.
Date published: 2019-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A thought-provoking novel. Normal People is an interesting, thought-provoking novel that follows a young “couple” as they finish high school and maneuver into university life. At a mere glance, it may seem like a typical romance story between two people from different sides of the tracks, but to be honest, there is nothing really typical about this story. Marianne and Connell come from very different backgrounds; Marianne is from a professional, well-to-do household, while Connell was raised by a single mother who cleans Marianne’s house. Marianne is somewhat of a loner – she isn’t close to her family and she doesn’t have any friends. Connell is a popular athlete who is never lacking in companionship. Despite their differences, Connell and Marianne make a connection, they just seem to click, but their relationship is not without its many flaws and obstacles. I’m even hesitant to call what Marianne and Connell had a relationship. They spent time together, enjoyed each other’s company, were intimate, but it was all to be kept a secret from their classmates and families. He was the golden boy, she was the plain Jane. He was a person who was lauded, she was one who was mocked or ignored. Who would possibly understand the attraction between them? I hated that she accepted this arrangement, and I hated that Connell felt it was even necessary. I do understand the weight that peer pressure can put on teenagers, and that most wish that they could fit in and cause as few ripples as possible in the social pool, but the whole scenario was quite heartbreaking. The tables turned when they began university. He was the one who found it difficult to make acquaintances, she was the one with all of the social graces. Their whole relationship seemed to be a dance of sorts. Their relationship was never truly set in stone or official, but they always seemed to find their way back to each other. With each phase of their lives they were always circling each other, revolving back in the other’s midst. Normal People was an intriguing story. It was a love story, but it wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t about any specific event, it was about the relationship between Marianne and Connell over the course of a few years and how they always ended up coming back together. It was both simplistic and profound in expressing how the people in our lives affect the paths that we take. It was about two young people who longed to be normal, but in all honesty, who is normal?
Date published: 2019-04-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for me I wanted to like this book so much, but I just didn’t. I like what the author was trying to do, but it did not work for me at all. I get that she was exploring what “normal” is, how our lives are influenced by those around us, how we influence them, learning about who we are and want to be as we grow up, etc, but I found that I simply didn’t care enough about the characters, their popularity, or their sex lives to enjoy the book. This book follows two characters, Marianne and Connell, from their high school years in a small town in Ireland to through their university years in Dublin. They have an on-again-off-again relationship that is strange in and of itself. They both have self esteem issues and worry about fitting in and are trying to figure out where they are comfortable in the world. However, their challenges, especially Marianne’s and her families, are not very nuanced and most of the characters are two dimensional. I found the leaps we had to take with the characters as readers to be too much. Suddenly, the socially shunned ugly girl is popular and beautiful, the jock is an outcast, etc. I get that this is a time of life that is confusing and full of changes and that the author is exploring this, but this book just didn’t do it for me. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
Date published: 2019-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THIS. Tender, and vulnerable, this book was smart and well written, and self-aware and artsy without being pretentious. Phenomenal and somehow both sweet and heartbreaking, this was a very very good book! #IndigoEmployee
Date published: 2019-02-26

Read from the Book

JANUARY 2011  Marianne answers the door when Connell rings the bell. She’s still wearing her school uniform, but she’s taken off the sweater, so it’s just the blouse and skirt, and she has no shoes on, only tights. Oh, hey, he says. Come on in. She turns and walks down the hall. He follows her, clos­ing the door behind him. Down a few steps in the kitchen, his mother Lorraine is peeling off a pair of rubber gloves. Marianne hops onto the countertop and picks up an open jar of chocolate spread, in which she has left a teaspoon. Marianne was telling me you got your mock results today, Lorraine says. We got English back, he says. They come back separately. Do you want to head on? Lorraine folds the rubber gloves up neatly and replaces them below the sink. Then she starts unclipping her hair. To Connell this seems like something she could accomplish in the car. And I hear you did very well, she says. He was top of the class, says Marianne. Right, Connell says. Marianne did pretty good too. Can we go?Lorraine pauses in the untying of her apron.I didn’t realize we were in a rush, she says.He puts his hands in his pockets and suppresses an irritable sigh, but suppresses it with an audible intake of breath, so that it still sounds like a sigh.I just have to pop up and take a load out of the dryer, says Lorraine. And then we’ll be off. Okay?He says nothing, merely hanging his head while Lorraine leaves the room.Do you want some of this? Marianne says.She’s holding out the jar of chocolate spread. He presses his hands down slightly further into his pockets, as if trying to store his entire body in his pockets all at once.No, thanks, he says.Did you get your French results today?Yesterday.He puts his back against the fridge and watches her lick the spoon. In school he and Marianne affect not to know each other. People know that Marianne lives in the white mansion with the driveway and that Connell’s mother is a cleaner, but no one knows of the special relationship between these facts.I got an A1, he says. What did you get in German?An A1, she says. Are you bragging?You’re going to get six hundred, are you?She shrugs. You probably will, she says.Well, you’re smarter than me.Don’t feel bad. I’m smarter than everyone.Marianne is grinning now. She exercises an open contempt for people in school. She has no friends and spends her lunch­times alone reading novels. A lot of people really hate her. Her father died when she was thirteen and Connell has heard she has a mental illness now or something. It’s true she is the smartest person in school. He dreads being left alone with her like this, but he also finds himself fantasizing about things he could say to impress her.You’re not top of the class in English, he points out.She licks her teeth, unconcerned.Maybe you should give me grinds, Connell, she says.He feels his ears get hot. She’s probably just being glib and not suggestive, but if she is being suggestive it’s only to degrade him by association, since she is considered an object of disgust. She wears ugly thick- soled flat shoes and doesn’t put makeup on her face. People have said she doesn’t shave her legs or any-thing. Connell once heard that she spilled chocolate ice cream on herself in the school lunchroom, and she went to the girls’ bathrooms and took her blouse off to wash it in the sink. That’s a popular story about her, everyone has heard it. If she wanted, she could make a big show of saying hello to Connell in school. See you this afternoon, she could say, in front of everyone. Undoubtedly it would put him in an awkward position, which is the kind of thing she usually seems to enjoy. But she has never done it.What were you talking to Miss Neary about today? Says Marianne.Oh. Nothing. I don’t know. Exams.Marianne twists the spoon around inside the jar.Does she fancy you or something? Marianne says.Connell watches her moving the spoon. His ears still feel very hot.Why do you say that? he says.God, you’re not having an affair with her, are you?Obviously not. Do you think it’s funny joking about that?Sorry, says Marianne.She has a focused expression, like she’s looking through his eyes into the back of his head.You’re right, it’s not funny, she says. I’m sorry.He nods, looks around the room for a bit, digs the toe of his shoe into a groove between the tiles.Sometimes I feel like she does act kind of weird around me, he says. But I wouldn’t say that to people or anything.Even in class I think she’s very flirtatious toward you.Do you really think that?Marianne nods. He rubs at his neck. Miss Neary teaches Economics. His supposed feelings for her are widely discussed in school. Some people are even saying that he tried to add her on Facebook, which he didn’t and would never do. Actually he doesn’t do or say anything to her, he just sits there quietly while she does and says things to him. She keeps him back after class sometimes to talk about his life direction, and once she actually touched the knot of his school tie. He can’t tell people about the way she acts because they’ll think he’s trying to brag about it. In class he feels too embarrassed and annoyed to concentrate on the lesson, he just sits there staring at the textbook until the bar graphs start to blur.People are always going on at me that I fancy her or what­ever, he says. But I actually don’t, at all. I mean, you don’t think I’m playing into it when she acts like that, do you?Not that I’ve seen.He wipes his palms down on his school shirt unthinkingly. Everyone is so convinced of his attraction to Miss Neary that sometimes he starts to doubt his own instincts about it. What if, at some level above or below his own perception, he does ac­tually desire her? He doesn’t even really know what desire is supposed to feel like. Any time he has had sex in real life, he has found it so stressful as to be largely unpleasant, leading him to suspect that there’s something wrong with him, that he’s unable to be intimate with women, that he’s somehow developmentally impaired. He lies there afterward and thinks: I hated that so much that I feel sick. Is that just the way he is? Is the nausea he feels when Miss Neary leans over his desk actually his way of experiencing a sexual thrill? How would he know?I could go to Mr. Lyons for you if you want, says Marianne. I won’t say you told me anything, I’ll just say I noticed it myself.Jesus, no. Definitely not. Don’t say anything about it to any­one, okay?Okay, all right.He looks at her to confirm she’s being serious, and then nods.It’s not your fault she acts like that with you, says Marianne. You’re not doing anything wrong.Quietly he says: Why does everyone else think I fancy her, then?Maybe because you blush a lot when she talks to you. But you know, you blush at everything, you just have that complexion.He gives a short, unhappy laugh. Thanks, he says.Well, you do.Yeah, I’m aware.You’re blushing now actually, says Marianne.He closes his eyes, pushes his tongue against the roof of his mouth. He can hear Marianne laughing.Why do you have to be so harsh on people? he says.I’m not being harsh. I don’t care if you’re blushing, I won’t tell anyone.Just because you won’t tell people doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want.Okay, she says. Sorry.He turns and looks out the window at the garden. Really the garden is more like “grounds.” It includes a tennis court and a large stone statue in the shape of a woman. He looks out at the “grounds” and moves his face close to the cool breath of the glass. When people tell that story about Marianne washing her blouse in the sink, they act like it’s just funny, but Connell thinks the real purpose of the story is something else. Mari­anne has never been with anyone in school, no one has ever seen her undressed, no one even knows if she likes boys or girls, she won’t tell anyone. People resent that about her, and Connell thinks that’s why they tell the story, as a way of gawking at something they’re not allowed to see.I don’t want to get into a fight with you, she says.We’re not fighting.I know you probably hate me, but you’re the only person who actually talks to me.I never said I hated you, he says.That gets her attention, and she looks up. Confused, he con­tinues looking away from her, but in the corner of his eye he still sees her watching. When he talks to Marianne he has a sense of total privacy between them. He could tell her anything about himself, even weird things, and she would never repeat them, he knows that. Being alone with her is like opening a door away from normal life and then closing it behind him. He’s not frightened of her, actually she’s a pretty relaxed person, but he fears being around her, because of the confusing way he finds himself behaving, the things he says that he would never ordinarily say.A few weeks ago when he was waiting for Lorraine in the hall, Marianne came downstairs in a bathrobe. It was just a plain white bathrobe, tied in the normal way. Her hair was wet, and her skin had that glistening look like she had just been applying face cream. When she saw Connell, she hesitated on the stairs and said: I didn’t know you were here, sorry. Maybe she seemed flustered, but not really badly or anything. Then she went back up to her room. After she left he stood there in the hall wait­ing. He knew she was probably getting dressed in her room, and whatever clothes she was wearing when she came back down would be the clothes she had chosen to put on after she saw him in the hall. Anyway Lorraine was ready to go before Marianne reappeared so he never did get to see what clothes she had put on. It wasn’t like he deeply cared to know. He certainly didn’t tell anyone in school about it, that he had seen her in a bathrobe, or that she looked flustered, it wasn’t anyone’s business to know.Well, I like you, Marianne says.For a few seconds he says nothing, and the intensity of the privacy between them is very severe, pressing in on him with an almost physical pressure on his face and body. Then Lor­raine comes back into the kitchen, tying her scarf around her neck. She does a little knock on the door even though it’s al­ready open.Good to go? she says.Yeah, says Connell.Thanks for everything, Lorraine, says Marianne. See you next week.Connell is already heading out the kitchen door when his mother says: You can say goodbye, can’t you? He turns to look over his shoulder but finds he cannot actually look Marianne in the eye, so he addresses himself to the floor instead. Right, bye, he says. He doesn’t wait to hear her reply.In the car his mother puts on her seatbelt and shakes her head. You could be a bit nicer to her, she says. She doesn’t ex­actly have an easy time of it in school.He puts the keys in the ignition, glances in the rearview. I’m nice to her, he says.She’s actually a very sensitive person, says Lorraine.Can we talk about something else?Lorraine makes a face. He stares out the windshield and pre­tends not to see.

Editorial Reviews

NATIONAL BESTSELLER NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER WINNER OF THE COSTA NOVEL AWARDTHE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS' BOOK OF THE YEAR (OVERALL)THE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS' FICTION BOOK OF THE YEARSHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE'S ENCORE AWARDSHORTLISTED FOR THE KERRY GROUP IRISH NOVEL OF THE YEARLONGLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZELONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTIONLONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZELONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE“Rooney writes like she’s shearing through blue silk with a newly sharpened pair of scissors. . . . Again and again, she hits the perfect phrase and then the ideal restraint. She writes about tricky commonplace things (text messages, sex) with a familiarity no one else has. She is a puer senex, and I hope the spell holds.” —The Paris Review   “Like other zeitgeist novels . . . Normal People has trapped a moment—in this case, our new sense of collective precariousness—whether individual, economic or political. . . . It is the first novel I have read that has convincingly captured what it is to be young today: often overeducated, neurotic, slightly too self-aware.”—The Guardian  “A trailblazing novel about modern life and love that will electrify any reader.” —Costal Novel Award jury citation“Sally Rooney's Normal People is the deeply felt story of a foundational relationship at the margin of friendship and true love, of shame and devotion. This inventive and profound novel proves what great fiction can do—it can open a world at the seams.” —Emma Straub, author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers“I couldn’t put Normal People down—I didn’t think I could love it as much as Conversations with Friends, but I did. Sally Rooney is a treasure. I can’t wait to see what she does next.” —Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot and The Possessed“This is one the best novels I have read in years. Sally Rooney understands the complexities of love, its radical intimacy, and how power is always shifting between people, and she tells her story in a way that feels new and old at the same time. It is intelligent, spare and mesmerizing, and it sent me back to an earlier point in my life in such a vivid and real way, reanimating for me with that period of time (first love), which I had thought was lost to me forever, but which felt born again in the form of this book.” —Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?“Sally Rooney is a master of the literary page-turner. In Normal People, she has once again crafted a complicated love story that's impossible to put down. It's also full of wise observations about class, gender roles and how the past shapes the present. Rooney's novels are populated with characters and situations that feel at once totally familiar and like something we've never seen in fiction before.” —J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions “I went into a tunnel with this book and didn’t want to come out. Absolutely engrossing and surprisingly heart-breaking with more depth, subtlety, and insight than any one novel deserves. Young love is a subject of much scorn, but Rooney understands the cataclysmic effects our youth has on the people we become. She has restored not only love’s dignity, but also its significance.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter “It is time to take a sharp inhale, people. After the success of Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney has produced a second novel, Normal People which will be just as successful as it deserves to be: it is superb . . . [T]he truth is that this novel is about human connection and I found it difficult to disconnect. It is a long time since I cared so much about two characters on a page.” —Anne Enright, The Irish Times“Rooney homes in on what she’s best at—describing people, with all their conceits and self-delusions, weaknesses and virtues. She does this with unsparing acuity and extraordinary sensitivity . . . There’s arch humor in her insights too.” —The Times (UK)“Beautifully observed and profoundly moving, I could scale new heights of hyperbole trying to describe how good this book is, but really, you just need to read it.” —The Bookseller Praise for Conversations with Friends:“A writer of rare confidence, with a lucid, exacting style . . . [O]ne wonderful aspect of Rooney’s consistently wonderful novel is the fierce clarity with which she examines the self-delusion that so often festers alongside presumed self-knowledge . . . But Rooney’s natural power is as a psychological portraitist. She is acute and sophisticated about the workings of innocence; the protagonist of this novel about growing up has no idea just how much of it she has left to do.” —The New Yorker“Rooney has the gift of imbuing everyday life with a sense of high stakes…a novel of delicious frictions.” —New York Magazine“I love debuts where you just can’t believe that it was a debut . . . Conversations with Friends paints a nuanced, page-turning portrait of a whip-smart university student in the throes of an affair with an older married man.” —Zadie Smith, ELLE “The dialogue is superb, as are the insights about communicating in the age of electronic devices. Rooney has a magical ability to write scenes of such verisimilitude that even when little happens they’re suspenseful.” —Curtis Sittenfeld, The Week“Sharp, funny, thought-provoking . . . a really great portrait of two young women as they’re figuring out how to be adults.” —Celeste Ng, Late Night with Seth Meyers Podcast“This book. This book. I read it in one day. I hear I'm not alone.” —Sarah Jessica Parker (Instagram)