Marianne answers the door when Connell rings the bell.
–Sally Rooney - Normal people - c.2018
What is a normal person? Is anyone normal? and if not, does that not mean that everyone is?
I guess normality is often seen of as going along with what society expects. Peer pressure keeps you normal, until it doesn’t. Fear keeps you normal. On the outside at least.
Marianne doesn’t fit in. She is the loner on the outside of her classmates. Intelligent, but distant. Does she keep the world apart from her or is it the world pushing her away?
Connell is also smart, but he is popular and part of the gang. But does he really feel like that in his own head? He is anxious and concerned with what other people think. How will they react?
Connell and Marianne come from different backgrounds in the same small town in Sligo, Connell’s mother cleans for Marianne’s. But they get on with one another, they can talk to each other and be themselves. But only in private, they never acknowledge one another in public, in school they inhabit different worlds. So which is their real self, the public or the private?
At first I really wasn’t sure about this book. I found the writing style so easy to read, but wasn’t sure about the plot. But the more I read the more I got sucked in. I’ve often thought that I enjoy character driven novels a lot more than plot driven ones, but I don’t think I’d catagorise this as character driven, it is more emotionally driven. Reading this book you can feel the characters emotions.
It really gets inside their thoughts and feelings. In a way it reminded me of Eimear McBride’s utterly fantastic books, but it isn’t the style, much more linear and easy to understand. McBride’s books are brutal and in your face, Ronney’s is somehow more low-key but in many ways as affecting. Rooney’s is also told in a more straightforward manner, although it does skip about in time a little, a series of jumps. Sometimes a day, sometimes a few months, from one incident or emotion to another.
I really enjoyed it, and I think that it is one of those books that will stay with me.