Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Normal People” as Want to Read:
Normal People
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Normal People

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  123,372 ratings  ·  12,387 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 profound realisatyears.


Kindle Edition, 268 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Faber & Faber
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Normal People, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Joseph Pfeffer While I gave the book a rave, and stand by that, the ending seems the less satisfying the more time I put between me and the book. Basically, Connell…moreWhile I gave the book a rave, and stand by that, the ending seems the less satisfying the more time I put between me and the book. Basically, Connell is still fucking Marianne over. He's always tended to stuff her in the closet, pull her out when he wants to fuck her, then put her back in. Admittedly, that all changes when he refuses to hit her, then saves her from the psychotically rageful Alan.

But in the last scene we see what starts as a moment of domestic bliss turn into yet another game-playing move by Connell. He's accepted a scholarship to something like the Columbia MFA program, but he doesn't tell Marianne until he gets accepted - until, that is it's a done deal. As usual, Marianne overreacts, which Connell must have known she would do. So the dynamic between the two of them has not changed. It probably never will. And we have the makings of a sequel.

What's unsatisfying, though, is that the ending feels unbalanced. Connell is going to move on to literary glory. Marianne has a boring job and is working on a deadly dull degree in political science. She'll stay in Dublin while Connell does New York. He'll no doubt find a new girlfriend, an artsy American girl from Barnard, let us say, and then he'll reationalize that to Marianne. Marianne, meanwhile, will fall back into her masochism which is never far away. She's the loser. (I hate it when a great book has an unsatisfying ending, because it colors my view of the entire book.)(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  123,372 ratings  ·  12,387 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Normal People
Emily May
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, 2019
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 People follows tw
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19-20-19, book-club
Sally Rooney is the real deal

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

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')
C) Contains a fair bit of sex (which is crucial to the story, btw, and is n/>Normal
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 read
Sep 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 l
Portal in the Pages
Goddamit Sally Rooney and now I'm crying.
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
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.
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 effor
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 anot
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
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-p
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 growi
Anna Luce
★★✰✰✰ 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:

While I enjoyed Rooney's style, the way in which she interweaves ordinary moments with emotionally charged ones and the uncertainty that pervades her story, I was also annoyed by how artificial her novel is. I had the impression that Rooney was trying to conjure a certain millennial "vibe" through her characters and their experiences.
However, the central figures of her novel, Connell and Marianne, lacked depth and, as stupid as it might sound, character. Their looks were emphasised in a way that made them "stand out" from others: they are skinny and beautiful, they smoke, they make languid movements, they are smart, and unlike their peers they actually care about world politics. Throughout the course of this novel we are told how DIFFERENT and SPECIAL they are.
Marianne comes from a wealthy and abusive family (we are supposed to feel bad for her), Connell was raised by his mother and suffers from bouts of anxiety and depression (we are also supposed to feel bad for him). That they have issues that they can't cope with is realistic, but what I didn't appreciate is the romanticising of their difficulties. What I didn't like is that being "alienated" is synonym of "cool" and that seeking sadomasochistic relationships is understandable/inevitable if you come from an abusive family.
Rooney handles serious issues (eg. an abusive family, depression, etc.) very badly. A book that handles trauma and self-harming incredibly well is What Red Was by Rosie Price. There we see why the characters behave in self-destructive ways, but in NP these things seem merely props.
Marianne and Connell aren't terrible people but god, they are so self-involved. Their relationship is made to appear fraught but I didn't always understand why. Drama for the sake of drama? They enter forgettable relationships with equally forgettable people but they remain fixated on each other. Why? No one knows...
Marianne is depicted by the author and the other characters as being the sort of person who does not to care about others' opinion of her but soon after a breakup with a cliched dick boyfriend she is obsessed with what people are saying about her...Connor is...intelligent? Indecisive? As interesting as a stale sandwich?!
Secondary characters and family members are barely sketched out, they have little to no purpose other than creating more "drama" for the main characters. Marianne's family was so badly written that I had a hard time taking any of them seriously. Her brother is laughably cruel and her mother is uncaring and snobbish (they are rich so...). Friends from college serve very little purpose, other than making the main characters seem "different" and "real" (they are special, not like other people).
What I disliked the most is that by the end neither Marianne or Connell show any sort of character growth. Not that I always want to read about characters who learn from their mistakes or gain some sort of insight from their experience, I can appreciate characters who keep perpetuating their 'bad' behaviour or even those who get worse or regress into 'bad' habits/behaviour. But they have to be believable. Marianne or Connell were not. They were merely an 'aesthetic', more befitting as subjects of a black and white grunge photo than anything else.
The only reason why I finished this novel is that I listened to the audiobook and the narrator managed to make this otherwise unappetising storyline sort of okay.
Paula Kalin
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literary fiction fans
Recommended to Paula by: Booker
Irish author, Sally Rooney’s second novel came to my attention when nominated for the Booker in 2018. Since then Normal People has won the Costa Book Award, An Post Irish Award, and nominated for many others. Quite a distinction for a wonderfully talented young author.

Normal People is about Marianne and Connell, their secret friendship, and their on and off again relationship. They are two young people drawn to each other who drift apart at times, but always end up coming back to eac
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
Larry H
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars.

Sally Rooney's upcoming novel Normal People almost felt like a puzzle, in that you didn't really know what you were truly getting until all of the pieces came together. Beautifully written although a little slow in its pacing, it's a novel full of deep emotions, which made it difficult to read at times.

Connell and Marianne know each other from high school, although they pretend not to, plus his mother works as a cleaner for her family. Marianne is a bit of a laughin
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
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 becaus
Adam Dalva
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing, kinetic, insightful, and fun - I'm writing a long-form review for Guernica about it (examining, partially, the spectrum of reactions on this site), so I can't say too much yet, but wow, I could not put this down. It feels ferociously of the moment, yes, but it also has a timelessness all its own. Cut through the hype. 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 att ...more
How do two damaged people, who long for nothing more than to be “normal”, navigate the intricacies of a relationship? This book tore my heart out and stomped on it, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Marianne and Connell become acquainted when his mother is the housekeeper for her family. Marianne’s family is wealthy, but she is the smart, nerdy, unattractive girl who is an outcast at school while Connell, also smart, is the popular jock. They enter into a relationship that he
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished Normal People last night but had to think about it for a little while before writing this review, which is unusual for me. In summary: I really liked it!

Marianne and Connell meet in high school, where Marianne is perceived by many as odd although she doesn’t care about popularity or public opinion. She’s from a wealthy family and bored by the obligations of school. Connell’s mother, Lorraine, cleans Marianne’s family’s home. Connell is popular, athletic, and well-liked. Marianne and Connel
I would give this 10 stars if I could. I probably just finished the best book of 2019.

My God, what a book. So many thoughts and emotions are running through my head I don't even know where to begin. I could cry with relief that I had two people really impress upon me the need to read this book. To think! I almost let this go by and fall into the cavern that is my TBR pile. I cannot believe I almost missed out on the experience of what it was like to live with this book the past two days. I w
Susanne  Strong
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read, audiobooks
4 Emotional Heartrending Stars.

Connell and Marianne. Two teens who are misfits, if you will. Drawn to each other in a way neither can explain. Throughout the years their forge a friendship, then a relationship of sorts, feeling the push and pull, which always remains the same. Neither satisfied, or ever getting what they want, yet both inexplicably drawn to the other. Always. Both complete the other in a way that no one else ever will.

There were so many times while reading “Normal P
Engrossing, complex, and emotionally honest, Normal People is an understated powerhouse of a novel. As this book ends up being so much more than the sum of its parts it's particularly difficult to summarize, but basically, it's a sort-of-love-story about Connell and Marianne, two young people growing up in small town Ireland together, who both move to Dublin for university in 2011.

There isn't much going on in this book aside from Connell and Marianne's 'will they/won't they' relationship,

Okay, I think this book is not only going to be polarizing, but most people will dislike it. But.. the writing was so hypnotic to me, I felt so much for both of these characters, and I just loved it a lot. RTC! <3

Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch

Buddy read with Romie from books & coffee with romie! ❤
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My true rating is somewhere between 2 and 5 stars.

Geez, this one made me sad. I don't think it's supposed to make readers sad, but with me it is what it is. If these young people are normal, then God bless everybody. I mean the writing isn't even "normal." This is a very talky book, but there is not a quotation mark to be found. It shocked me at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly. But this isn't "normal" writing. Does that mean the author isn't quite sure about what "normal"
To be honest, I wasn't that interested in this one initially. I added it due to all the wonderful GR reviews I read. And I'm so glad I did. I found it difficult to put it aside, I wanted to keep hearing more.

Normal People tells the story of two people, Connell and Marianne, who are anything but normal. Well, maybe they are and this is what many people go through. Each of them has problems. They meet when quite young, in high school. Connell's mom is the housekeeper for Marianne's fam
Gumble's Yard
Longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker – and the only book published after the longlist was announced, and so the last I came to read (a month and 2 days after the announcement).

While not shortlisted for that prize - the book is now (and not surprisingly) starting to sweep other awards: Irish Book of The Year - Best Novel. National Book Award - International Author, Waterstone's Book of the Year - Best Novel and Best Book, Costa Award - Best Novel, British Book Awards - fiction winner and overall w
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm late to the Normal People party but DAMNNNN! This book gave me all the feels. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

This is the story of Connell and Marianne, and their relationship, as they navigate from high school and throughout college. The entire time I read this I was screaming in my head for these two just to be together and to stop screwing everything up....for me. Yes, you read that right, I felt like I had some personal stake in this relationship and that can only be attributed to Sally Rooney's wrup....for
I am such a fan of Sally Rooney’s writing and I cannot imagine this changing, ever. The way she constructs her characters is something extraordinary and I am so very glad this book is on the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. I needed a brilliant book after some of other nominated books just did not work for me at all. I really hope she’ll make the shortlist.

Told in alternating viewpoints and skipping forward in time, this book chronicles Connell’s and Marianne’s friendship/
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Andrea Torres - Review 6 2 11 Nov 13, 2019 08:33PM  
Mix and Matching ...: RATE OR HATE ?? 1 3 Nov 07, 2019 12:21PM  
Letteratura Postm...: Sessantanovesimo GdL - Persone normali 26 60 Nov 02, 2019 07:12AM  
#bpbokklubb: Normal people/Normala människor av Sally Rooney 2 93 Oct 27, 2019 12:57AM  
Mix and Matching ...: What are your expectations ? 1 5 Sep 20, 2019 01:52PM  
Our Marginalized ...: Acting "normal" 7 34 Aug 07, 2019 07:02AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Three Women
  • Fleishman Is in Trouble
  • Ask Again, Yes
  • Daisy Jones & The Six
  • City of Girls
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
  • Milkman
  • The Nickel Boys
  • Everything I Know About Love
  • Queenie
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over
  • The Testaments
  • Trust Exercise
  • Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
  • Miracle Creek
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had
See similar books…
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.
“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.” 166 likes
“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.” 123 likes
More quotes…