Karen's Reviews > Normal People

Normal People by Sally Rooney
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it was amazing

I loved every bit of this book. From the moment I read the first few lines, I knew I would have a hard time putting it down. I had a visceral connection to it almost immediately and I couldn't put it down. I didn't want to.

The books I love fall into two categories: books i have no qualms about recommending to everyone and books I love but I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending without a bunch of caveats. This book falls in the latter category. (Plainsong, however, falls in the former.)

I want to start with the caveats:
- this might be boring for many, there's no plot, nothing really happens and there's no "ending" either. It's almost like a glimpse into the lives of these characters over the course of a few years.
- there is a lot of sex and drinking and some drugs in the book. not many graphic descriptions of any of it but if you're sensitive it will bother you.
- the secondary characters are not well developed and are so not the point of the story that writer clearly couldn't be bothered to work on them.
- it's hard to tell what the "point" of the story is or if there even is one.

I will also say while I liked it ok, I didn't love Rooney's first novel and I didn't go into this thinking it was going to be amazing. Man Booker prize long lists are a mixed bag in my opinion so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Ok, now that I have all the other caveats out of the way, I am going to come back to: I loved this book. I will thinking about it for a long, long time. I've underlined many parts of it. So much of this book connected with me.

I don't even know how to describe what spoke to me so deeply. It's so human is the best way I can think to describe it. The emotions the two main characters have, the deep conflict, the constant miscommunication (or lack of communication) that is a result of their own insecurities, their own feelings of inadequacy can be felt so acutely in this story that it made me wince several times. There are so many moments of realizations for the characters, moments where they see how their idea of something doesn't really match up with the reality of the world and how their distorted thinking ruins their chances of joy again and again. It felt so true and real to me.


Here are a few quotes that really spoke to me::

Marianne sometimes sees herself at the very bottom of the ladder, but at other times she pictures herself off the ladder completely, not affected by its mechanics since she does not actually desire popularity or do anything to make it belong to her. From her vantage point, it's not obvious what rewards the ladder provides, even to those who really are at the top.

The ladder is complicated for all people, at all rungs.

Even in memory she will find this moment unbearably intense, and she's aware of this now, while it's happening. She has never believed herself fit to be loved by any person. But now she has a new life, of which this is the first moment, and even after many years have passed she will still think: Yes, that was it, the beginning of my life.

This was such a touching moment for me. Those times in your life when you can experience something monumental and be aware of it's hugeness at the same time. Sort of like both living and observing your life simultaneously.

He knew that the secret for which he had sacrificed his own happiness and the happiness of another person had been trivial all along, and worthless.

Isn't this the saddest moment when you find out this thing you were so afraid of being "found out" for was meaningless to others? What you made so big in your mind, what you contorted your life for.

You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.

i wish this were true. I don't know if it is.

No one can be independent of other people completely, do 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 might be the crux of this story in the end. if only we could.

I can't even tell you what the story is about. I just know that there's so much of it that spoke to me. And I can totally see that at another time, in another place, I might have found all of it sappy and pointless. But I didn't. I connected with this deeply and felt rewarded again and again throughout the story.

huge thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy in return for an honest review
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Reading Progress

January 13, 2019 – Shelved
January 13, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
January 17, 2019 – Started Reading
January 18, 2019 – Finished Reading

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