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Normal People

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  578,254 ratings  ·  50,513 reviews
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person's life - a simple yet profoun
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 6th 2018 by Faber & Faber (first published August 28th 2018)
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Towhid Islam That's one opinion/interpretation of the ending (of the novel). I for one, couldn't ask for a better ending, because the author let each one of us, re…moreThat's one opinion/interpretation of the ending (of the novel). I for one, couldn't ask for a better ending, because the author let each one of us, readers, to imagine however we wish to believe how the story of Connell and Marianne shall continue. While such an ending presents an opportunity for a sequel for the author (after all, she needs to eat), I couldn't have asked for more. To continue on and read about these two people go their separate ways once more and get back together again, would be dull and boring.

My interpretation of the ending, is that both have matured sufficiently to recognize and accept these two people are at their best when they are together. Therefore, in my imagination, Connell would simply refuse to go to NYU without Marianne. Perhaps he would convince her to apply for a master's program at NYU as well and would only embark on his MFA, if Marianne was accepted so that they would be together. Or, if Marianne had no further interest in (higher) education, Connell would find a master's program nearby so that they could continue to be together. I remember, it is only Connell who keeps on telling Marianne that he loves her, whereas she barely says so, just once. In the last few pages the author revealed that Marianne finally realized that she is truly herself only when she is with Connell. I expect these two to grow old together.(less)

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  578,254 ratings  ·  50,513 reviews

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★★✰✰✰ 2 grungy stars

If you believe that characters who dislike themselves, shrug a lot, and say "I don't know" 24/7, are very deep and realistic, well this may be the perfect read for you.
Or if you enjoy reading about "in" authors...look no further. After all, Rooney is "defining a generation".

If you are thinking about reading this novel, I suggest you listen to the following song instead, since it will take you less time and you will get the same story:

Emily May
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, contemporary
No one can be independent of other people completely, so why not give up the attempt, she thought, go running in the other direction, depend on people for everything, allow them to depend on you, why not.

This is going to be a polarizing book. I mean, I think I liked it. And I say "liked it" in the sense that it made me very miserable. It is a quiet character study, almost a YA novel but not quite, and it is a profoundly lonely and depressing love story.

I didn't begin by liking it. Normal Peo
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, 19-20-19
Sally Rooney is the real deal

Normal People has been lavished with praise from critics, longlisted for the Man Booker prize and adapted for television by the BBC. And that's just in its first week of publication!

All that attention will, no doubt, attract quite a few readers who would not ordinarily touch this subject with a barge pole. Because this book:

A) Is about young people
B) Is a love story (but not a 'romance novel')
C) Contains a fair bit of sex (which is crucial to the storytelling, btw,
Bernard O'Keeffe
Sep 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
On the second page of Sally Rooney’s universally acclaimed, Booker- longlisted novel is the following paragraph:

‘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 get the hand in the pockets bit, but how the hell does the rest of it work? A sigh is an exhalation and I have no idea how any attempt to suppress a sigh by inhaling could possibly sound like one. I’ve tried hard to imagine
Sep 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: booker-18
I am not sure how to write this review because I seem to be so far beyond the pale on my antipathy to this book. In simplest terms I didn't connect with this work at all and I would be best to chalk this up to a "reader/writer" mismatch and move on but I will try and articulate some of my reading experience.

Some of my perplexity with Normal People is that I just couldn't relate to the twenty something, highly educated, politically aware and cynical young adults that populate this novel. I am not
May 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Whoa... guys... I just finished Normal... man, I just... I don’t know... what am I, what am I, uh, missing? This, uh, this... this wasn’t good. Not good at all. I’m so confused. This is, um, this is... this book is everywhere right now, being highly praised and all that. Websites I trust are telling me this is, this is one of the best, one of the best books of the year so far. But, guys... wow.

I’ve never felt more disconnected from a story. I couldn’t care less about either one of these charact
Nov 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-reads
Man booker prize long list nominee and Costa book awards nominee This is a book that has many admirers and sadly it didn't work for me and while I would love to agree with all the judges on this one I only struggled to the end because it was a bookclub read. It is difficult to go against the grain on a book that is nominated for so many awards. So as always you need to judge for yourself because books fit people differently

Quite simply this book didn't Fit Me. I really have no interest in r
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Whoever was responsible for the marketing of this book deserves a raise because they managed to make 400k+ people read this incredibly boring story.

I've been joking around and explaining not loving most Memoirs/Autobiographies and some Contemporaries by stating that "I just don't really care about people".

Clearly, it's far from the truth but... I'll make an exemption for these people.

Didn't care one bit.

Not sure if I'll watch the tv show...
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
I picked up my cup of coffee and took a large gulp, swishing the liquid around in my mouth a little before swallowing. Two stars, I think. I touched my hand to my face and rubbed my nose. I clicked the two star rating. I closed my eyes and nodded, breathing out slowly. Yes, two stars.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book aims to hit emotional poignancy by showing how people weave in and out of your life and exploring themes of first love, class differences, and depression; but ultimately the narrative boils down to two co-dependent people hooking up throughout the years, which doesn't really add anything new. Turn to your social circle IRL and you'll find the same story. ...more
wow. one of the most frustrating, but humanising, books i have read in a long time. for sure. i feel so exhausted after reading this, but i think that may have been the authors intent. its shows that normal people living normal lives can be quite tiresome. for example:

- the writing lacks quotation marks, which makes the dialogue difficult to decipher. which could be seen as support for the idea that life is just as messy as the books formatting and communication sometimes takes effort to underst
Portal in the Pages
Goddamit Sally Rooney and now I'm crying. ...more
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
I genuinely have no idea how to rate this. I LOVED the first half, felt lukewarm towards the middle, and then hated the ending????? The characters had so much chemistry but they refused to communicate I just 😤

TW: sexual assault, domestic violence, depression, suicide
Ali Abdaal
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Started reading at 11pm while on an evening shift at work. Drove home at midnight, arrived at 00:40. Got into bed and kept reading, finished at 04:15. I’m kicking myself for ruining the next day but do I regret it? Absolutely not.
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What?! The.... what?! 😬😬😬😬 This book has been very publicized with the new Hulu adaptation and all. I for one, was looking forward to reading this one. Along with everyone else (judging by how long I waited in the library queue😡). Sadly, it didn’t live up to the hype for me. ☹️These characters were not likable. They both have clear issues, but I’ve read plenty of books where the characters are flawed but you still root for them in the end. And don’t even get me started on the ending. 🙄
i am swiftly abandoning this reread because i'm not enjoying it and i'm scared.


“Life offers up these moments of joy despite everything.”

The first time I read this, I rated it three stars. While this can be considered relatively high for me (don’t check my average rating, it will only bring despair to us both), it is approximately two stars lower than what I expected to rate this book.

I adore Rooney’s prior novel, Conversations with Friends, to a degree that is almost disturb
Nilufer Ozmekik
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Check out Hulu’s marvelous adaptation! They did amazing job by adapting this lyrical, poignant, sad and realistic story with remarkable, heartfelt performances! It is a real soul crusher, heartbreaker! Get ready to set your ugly cries free!!!!

This really reminded me of those tear jerkers, Oh God I cannot breathe, all my happiness swept away by emotional vampires vacuum cleaners inc., come on, that’s kind of nerve bending story that one of the protagonist has to die from a deadly disease ( o
Elyse  Walters
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had been influenced by a friend - whom I adore & respect - by her 1 star review.... way before this book started gaining momentum and hit the stores a month ago.
This book wasn’t for my friend - but it sure was for me.

I’ve own an ‘Advance Reader’s Edition’, of Sally Rooney’s paper copy for a year and a half. It sat on my shelf, unread.

Rooney’s first novel “Conversations With Friends”, was wonderful.

I admit having a thing for the type of writer Sally Rooney is:
*Addicting* thought-provoking r
Bel Rodrigues
4,5 ⭐

this love - taylor swift.
Paul Bryant
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I thought I’d do the Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge, even though it’s just about winter here in Sherwood. But I think I’ll get away with it, you never see any police around here from one year to the next. Anyway, standards really aren’t what they were, I don’t even think anyone would care. In the old days if you did a summer reading challenge in winter you’d be out the door so fast your feet wouldn’t touch the ground. But these days people have neck tattoos and name their children after bran ...more
There were lines that swept me away, the way the timeline was structured moved the story forward in such a powerful and exceptional way, reading the story felt like the way we tell our lives to ourselves, highlighting the moments we've decided are pivotal, but all together I felt depressed and frustrated with the characters and their repetition and their decisions. But I will definitely try Rooney again! ...more
Let it be known that I found this book both exhilarating and almost unbearably frustrating. About halfway through the book I literally lied down on my couch and screamed to my empty apartment, “Connell, you are such an incompetent communicator, I swear to God herself if you don’t help yourself I’m going to loathe every person named Connell I ever encounter for the rest of my life.” Even though I’m giving this book 2 stars, it’s more out of how invested I felt in the characters and how little I f ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive
Uncomfortable and Provocative

In Normal People, Sally Rooney tells the story of two deeply damaged people who develop an intense relationship that transcends the norms.

Connell and Marianne start a secret romantic relationship while in high school. Connell is the popular jock who secretly cares what everyone thinks about him. Marianne is the school pariah--the girl who people create myths about. While they both feel alone and misunderstood, together they understand not only one another, but a
Adam Dalva
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing, kinetic, insightful, and fun. It feels ferociously of the moment, yes, but it also has a timelessness all its own. Cut through the hype - cut through the show. Rooney's time management is stellar (every new chapter is a time jump ahead), both perspectives are great (every chapter alternates between our two leads, with the attendant misunderstandings of a really good rom-com), and the characters behave like real humans. Excellent supporting cast too, which is a rare treat. T ...more
Peter Boyle
I wanted to like this book more than I did. How thrilling that the author hailed as "Salinger for the Snapchat generation" is Irish, and from my own province of Connacht at that. There are moments in this novel that would certainly back up such a bold claim. But I believe that she is a writer still honing her craft. Not quite the finished article just yet, but with all the potential to become a literary heavyweight.

In the beginning we meet Connell and Marianne, two young people growing up the we

This is one of the most overrated books I've read in a long time, and I'm stunned it was long-listed for the Women's prize and the Man Booker (but then, I usually really dislike what's chosen for that). The critics are gushing over it too. A professional review I saw in “Book Page” calls it “wise and wondrous.” I ask this: How? How is Rooney’s message “wise”? Show me what’s “wondrous.” I’ve read wondrous and wise many times before. Those are the transportive books I never forget
Jul 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 "banal, extraneous, pretentious" stars !!!

2020 Read I was Most Afraid to Dislike Award (not quite hate this year)

I will likely piss some people off with this mini-review but WTF was that ?

I am really astonished that this has been nominated for so many prizes. The writing was plainer than brown paper, the psychologies were moderately inconsistent and the minutiae were so utterly unnecessary.

This went on and on and on about two insecurely attached teens that try desperately to love and gro
Sam Quixote
Oooof. Alright - a disclaimer before I start. Normal People by Sally Rooney is superb. I’m gonna gush about this one (warning to those in the splash zone!) and I honestly feel that the less you know about it, the better the experience will be for you. So, to those of you who’re thinking of reading it, don’t bother with any reviews about the book - just read it. It’s a contemporary story about a boy and a girl who fall in love. That’s all you need to know. And when you’re done, come back and we c ...more
It's not like this with other people, she says. Yeah, he says. I know.

I wanted to love this book but, truth be told, my feelings landed somewhere closer to like. The numerous accolades and glowing reviews this novel received from multiple outlets led me to believe I was destined to adore this awkward tale of first love. And on some level, I did. Yet, part of me feels underwhelmed. Mostly with the storyline arc or lack-thereof, which translated to a frustrating conclusion.

My introduction to
Britta Böhler
I have to admit I wasn't taken with Rooney's debut Conversations with Friends but I tried to read her second book with an open mind. The writing was good and some of the themes were interesting but I was rather bored by the selfabsorbed, cliché-characters: women who just want to 'get the man' and who always question their self-worth after a break-up, and men who are behaving as if they come straight out of a 'boys-will-be-boys'-movie. So 1950ies. And the ending is just plain cheesy.

2.5* (mainly
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Sally Rooney was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin, where she graduated from Trinity College. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Dublin Review, The White Review, The Stinging Fly, and the Winter Pages anthology.

Articles featuring this book

We all want to spend more time lost in the pages of great books. That's the idea behind our annual 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge! It's...
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“It was culture as class performance, literature fetishised for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys, so that they might afterwards feel superior to the uneducated people whose emotional journeys they liked to read about.” 728 likes
“Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn't know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it.” 682 likes
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