Normal People

Normal People

A Novel

Book - 2019
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L ONGLISTED 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.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2019.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780735276475
Branch Call Number: FIC Roone
Characteristics: 273 pages


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Normal People by Sally Rooney, a deep look at young love, friendship, and social classes in todays' Ireland. (more)

From Library Staff

VaughanPLKatherine Nov 20, 2020

I found this book very modern and relatable, I was not surprised to see the author is my age.
Sometimes I hated the way the characters were acting and yet I could see myself acting the same way and making the same decisions, saying similar things.

This is by no means a 'fun' 'light' love st... Read More »

From the critics

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ArapahoeSarahH May 06, 2021

Oh how conflicted I am about this book! Even weeks after finishing I cannot decide if Marianne and Connell complete each other, or completely destroy each other. Not a light read, but glimpses of hope.

Apr 26, 2021

This book 100% did not live up to all the hype surrounding it. It's an angsty romance written for teenagers who're equally as angsty and think they know everything about life and what realistic relationships are. The author tried too hard to be angsty and realistic to the point that the novel just wasn't realistic anymore; it felt like the author was doing too much to stand out as REALISTIC and UNIQUE (I absolutely hated the lack of quotation marks--it doesn't do anything besides make the book harder to read).

The main characters consist of a pick me girl and an overtly hormonal guy that seems to "only have eyes for her." Like I said, a cliché novel disguised as a realistic outlook on relationships. The characters have absolutely zero character growth making the "realistic" ending quite substance-less.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Apr 16, 2021

Ok, what? I’m honestly surprised I liked this book so much. It’s definitely not my thing, it being so very relationship-y and angsty with nothing else really going on. But because of the deafening buzz at the time of publication, it's been on my to-read list for a while. Then the show aired (buzz, buzz, buzz), so when I saw the available audiobook on NC Digital Library, I went for it. AND... I really, really liked it. Or maybe even loved? I don’t know; I’m admittedly still confused. Getting to know these characters was oddly enjoyable, and I found myself routing for their coupledom even when it might not have been the best thing. But maybe that’s the appeal- life can be complicated and messy, and a lot of the time, what we want is not best and yet… Anyways, not sure I’ve read a book where the characters’ thoughts are so centered, and I’m finding it difficult to climb out of their heads. I think that says something.

Nicr Feb 13, 2021

Complex, incisive character study of a long-term, on-again, off-again relationship.

Jan 31, 2021

This took me awhile to finish because the emotions it stirred up at times was hard to handle. I felt like I’ve been there with Connell and Marianne in their roller coaster ride to find themselves and their a sense of belonging. It also reminded me of all the feelings and experiences I’ve been through. Sometimes it feels a little too close to home. Their relationship with each other as well as with others are heartbreaking. This is what real life is about and not everything is happy and cozy. There are good times and then there are really bad times.

Jan 30, 2021

I wish I hadn't read this book. It is extremely depressing. A woman who continually turns away from a somewhat decent guy and chooses sick, abusive men. I couldn't sleep one night, it upset me to that degree. No thanks. At this point in life, I've heard and read enough negativity. It's time to stop wallowing in depravity, move away from unhealthy things.

Jan 28, 2021

Normal People is a quick and captivating novel that teaches the reader about the power of relationships, and how they can be used to transform people in a number of ways. Marianne and Connell grew up in the same town, practically unacquainted, until one fateful conversation changes how they look at one another. The novel takes us from the first conversation to years later, detailing how the two always seem to find their way back to each other. Although a quick read, the book does not lack originality, deepness, or insight into the lives of the protagonists. An important message taken away from Rooney’s novel was the idea of worthiness and love. Marianne finds herself unworthy of love, outcast, and abnormal. Connell is at his lowest point when he is not with those who make him feel cared for. The two search for their idea of love in a number of different ways while the novel teaches us about seeking support and healthy relationships. As cheesy as it sounds, the novel ensures the reader, as well as Connell and Marianne, that they are deserving of love, and that it is something fundamental to the human experience (in a number of different ways). Although short, Normal People doesn't shy from connecting with the readers and sharing a number of different messages about life and love. ⅘ stars, only for the abruptness of the ending!
@readingmouse of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Jan 17, 2021

Unassailable, at least in my bookclub.

Jan 17, 2021

Normal People is a story of two people who are both damaged and affected by their life experiences in such unique ways that only the other can understand. It is a modern love story filled with heartbreak, the challenges of life, and character growth. We see Marianne and Connell fall in love and leave each other repeatedly, and the way they continually come back to one another. It is a story with so many layers and beautiful writing that shows how young love can have a lasting impact on the rest of your life.

Jan 11, 2021

I found this book disappointing and uncomfortable to read. It started out with great promise, but really seemed to bog down once the protagonists went to college. I suppose it is realistic in a gritty, icky way; but it certainly is not what I would call entertainment nor uplifting. Many times I wanted to stop reading. I really cannot recommend it. I also agree w a previous comment--would have preferred quotation marks.

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Add a Quote
Aug 06, 2020

I’m just nervous, he says. I feel like it’s pretty obvious I don’t want you to leave.

In a tiny voice she says: I don’t find it obvious what you want.

Aug 06, 2020

If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed.

Aug 06, 2020

Cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently. You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.

ArapahoeMaryA Feb 07, 2020

Marianne had a wildness that got into him for a while and made him feel that he was like her, that they had the same unnameable spiritual injury, and that neither of them could ever fit into the world. But he was never damaged like she was. She just made him feel that way.

There’s something frightening about her, some huge emptiness in the pit of her being. It’s like waiting for a lift to arrive and when the doors open nothing is there, just the terrible dark emptiness of the elevator shaft, on and on forever. She’s missing some primal instinct, self-defense or self-preservation, which makes other human beings comprehensible. You lean in expecting resistance, and everything just falls away in front of you.

ArapahoeStaff26 Sep 17, 2019

He makes a facial expression she can't interpret, kind of raising his eyebrows, or frowning. When they get back to his house the windows are all dark and Lorraine is in bed. In Connell's room he and Marianne lie down together whispering. He tells her she's beautiful. pg. 45

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Jan 26, 2021

PAOLA SALGUERO thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Aug 28, 2020

kaitoryn thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Apr 06, 2020

CORI D. MORRIS thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Aug 04, 2019

J_257 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Summary
Feb 20, 2021

Don't remember much. Review: Marianne and Connell attend the same secondary school in Carricklea, a small town in Sligo, Ireland. The popular Connell, captain of the football team and a promising scholar, is the son of a single mother who cleans house for Marianne's mother. Marianne, bullied by her financially well-off family, occupies the lowest rung of the school's social ladder but outshines all of her peers academically. Though they avoid each other in public, Marianne and Connell share an intense emotional bond reinforced by secrecy and sex. .......

SPL_HEATHER Jun 25, 2019

Connell and Marianne attend the same high school in small town, present day
Ireland. On the surface they have nothing in common and probably wouldn't
have crossed paths outside school had it not been for the fact that
Connell's mother cleans house for Marianne's mother and Connell waits at the
house to take his mother home every day. So begins a friendship that is kept
hidden from their school friends because at school Connell is one of the
popular and confident kids, and Marianne is considered an awkward oddity,
having no friends, but really not caring either. Connell is embarrassed to
be seen at school with Marianne and Marianne seems to accept that they
shouldn't acknowledge each other.

Skip ahead a year, and the two are at university in Dublin. Marianne has
found her confidence and is popular and outgoing, while Connell can only
stand looking on from the sidelines uncertain with what to do with his life.
Despite the changes in their circumstances they are each supportive of the
other, and through numerous personal, sometimes destructive relationships,
they always eventually gravitate towards one another.

Normal People could be called a coming of age novel and the central
characters are young people, but it isn't necessarily a young adult novel. I
don't think Rooney is aiming to write for any particular generation because
what Connell and Marianne go through is applicable to most of us whatever
our ages. It's not quite a romance either, but it is a love story. It almost
defies categorization. Ultimately I think it's a novel about integrity and
doing the right thing for the person you love, all the while knowing that
your own life will likely be changed and diminished. It's a novel about pure
love, love that is capable of overcoming everything, including shame and
Nominated for the Booker prize, Sally Rooney's writing is beautiful, and
each new chapter is a snapshot in the lives of two flawed but hopeful young


Add Notices
Jan 26, 2021

Sexual Content: References to sex and BDSM.

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