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Normal People
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Book of the Month -- 2020 > BOTM: August 2020: Normal People by Sally Rooney

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message 1: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
With 28% of the vote we will be reading Normal Peoplefor our August book. Enjoy!

Here is the synopsis:
At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers - one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.


message 2: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
Also, is anyone watching the tv show adaptation of the this? It's supposed to be really good. Got nominated for some Emmys and everything.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Just read the first chapter, it is promising.


message 4: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
Aya wrote: "Just read the first chapter, it is promising."

That's good to hear because I just placed a hold on it (along with Pachinko) at my library. It's quite a popular series, so I imagined it would be a good book. Not normally something I would pick.

What do you like about the first chapter, the characters the writing style, pace? I'm curious about the "perfectly spare prose."


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

From the get go the reader is not in doubt of what is going on, also i read the back of the book and it seems that I am getting what is promised, an honest story about young love.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Now that I am further ahead, I can add that I like the main characters but there are also things that I do not like - must wait til discussion because of spoilers.
I like the pace too - my first language is Danish and I am reading this book in English, and it is really easy to read and understand. I think it is the "perfectly spare prose" that I like actually.


message 7: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
Aya wrote: "Now that I am further ahead, I can add that I like the main characters but there are also things that I do not like - must wait til discussion because of spoilers.
I like the pace too - my first la..."


Now you've got me looking forward to it. I generally choose fantasy or sci-fi and only venture into other genres when I take part in challenges or BOMs but this sounds interesting.
I'm impressed you're reading in another language. I tried to do that with The Stranger because I had heard it said so much can be lost in imperfect translation but I realised my grasp of French wasn't nearly nuanced enough to appreciate it anyway. So I got the English one out instead. I still haven't finished that one either. Maybe I should try to find a French Sally Rooney.


message 8: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
Also, feel free to leave any comments you want just hide them in a spoiler. Then you can leave it up to others to decide to read or not. Just in case you aren't familiar with creating a spoiler, it's shown in pop up box link (some html is ok) at the upper right corner of the comment box. It's essentially (view spoiler) but remove the asterisk. I don't know how to explain it any better cos writing the code just does it. 😭


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for the info, Keli, I do know how but thought I would wait til someone else did something first LOL
I appreciate every help I can get.

It is funny you mention french, I speak french..or so I thought until reading Le Petit Prince on audio, that is so not my pace hah!

I startet reading in english not so many years ago, and the same thing happened, I just kept going and did not care if I skipt a word, so I can recommend trying again with easy readings or audios, and then repeat until you get the picture. I tried with Harry Potter in french on audio but had to leave it for now because of “The Prince“, I haven’t given up.

ps. Some of my favorite books are fantasy or sci-fi too, best way to escape IMO, and John Boyne of course!


message 10: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
Okay, just looked at John Boyne and almost instantly started crying. I've not readThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas but the idea makes me want to cry. I find most books relating to WWII particularly hard and nearly impossible anything to do with concentration, labour or death camps.

At university I had to do a foreign language course, I chose a French reading and writing class, I barely passed the speaking and hearing course. But I did three years of French in high school and, though I had always struggled hearing and speaking French, I could read and write it passably. In the course we read alot, short stories, fairytales, snippets of novels, and I could always understand. We spent the semester slowly progressing through The Count of Monte Cristo. I had to look words up but I felt I grasped it. Maybe it was because I already knew the story of Monte Cristo or maybe it was because it was a time when I used and heard French more, either way it gave me the false sense that I could still do it, twenty years later. Turns out languages do really get lost if you don't use them. But I'll follow your suggestion, I won't give up. I'll start with something simple and then progress to modern classics.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, John Boyne is teary reading, but he is so good, The Hearts Invisible Furies is recommendable.

I forgot to mention that I lived in France a whole year as an au pair, I never spoke anything else but french, and now I realise that is has gone...in my head i’m still really good LOL


message 12: by Julie (new)

Julie | 15 comments I really want to read along this month but I currently can’t get my hands on it 😭


message 13: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "I really want to read along this month but I currently can’t get my hands on it 😭"

Regardless of the month, you can read along and comment. I still haven't received my copy either, so I'll be reading it late too.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I have read it, but will wait for you guys to discuss.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

oh...the series is on my tv app right now, will of course bingewatch.


message 16: by Pien (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pien | 503 comments With an audiobook as the only option, I’m listening to this story. It’s hard to keep my attention that way (with my daughter still having holiday and hubbie working at home, both just starting a conversation when I am Obviously wearing headphones 🙄😉). But: looks like it’s in my library now! This afternoon, I’m running! (And also getting All the light we cannot see, which suddenly disappeared from the online library while I was only halfway)
Love real books and real libraries 😁


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

lol, I love real books too. My online library can be tricky as well.
I will soon be in line for All the lights we cannot see as audio.
Normal People tv series is really good, almost better than the book, I am halfway through and loving the characters, except when they misbehave!


message 18: by Pien (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pien | 503 comments Ive finished too. Who are still reading or have also finished by now?


message 19: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
i still haven't got my copy. I'll probably end up reading it in September.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I can wait with the discussion til everybody is ready.


message 21: by StarMan (new)

StarMan (thestarman) | 1867 comments Some discussion questions for this book:
https://www.bookcompanion.com/discuss...

Interview with author Sally Rooney:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...


Laura (twlightzonebookworm) | 8 comments StarMan wrote: "Some discussion questions for this book:
https://www.bookcompanion.com/discuss...

Interview with author Sally Rooney:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/201......"


Normal People was one of my book club reads. I really enjoyed the book and the depth of the two main characters. I also watched the Hulu series and felt that you gain more insight into the two main characters.


message 23: by StarMan (new)

StarMan (thestarman) | 1867 comments Here's one of the questions from the previously mentioned links:

In an interview with The New Yorker, Sally Rooney mentioned that "A lot of critics have noticed that my books are basically nineteenth-century novels dressed up in contemporary clothing."

► Would you agree with this comment? How might Normal People ... be compared, structurally and thematically, to nineteenth-century romantic literature?



message 24: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
Yay I finally got it!!! I'm starting August's BOM quite rightly in September. 🤣🤣


message 25: by Vickie (new)

Vickie (bookfan4ever) Keli wrote: "Yay I finally got it!!! I'm starting August's BOM quite rightly in September. 🤣🤣"

Better late than never!😉😂


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Yai, Keli. I am not comfortable starting this discussion since the book pulls me in so many different directions.


message 27: by Pien (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pien | 503 comments I’m with you, Aya, some things about the book I thought were beautiful, other things irritated me or I didn’t understand. I had no problem finishing it but would I recommend it? Nope!


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Well i guess i will start before i forget the story - it is forgetable.
I liked the two main characters but grew bored of the story - it was like i had to tell the book several time "yes yes i get it - move on", but when i saw the movie i really liked it - and i think the movie stayed close to the book. So...where am i?
If i don´t know exactly what i think, i guess the book has just been readable, not bad, not super good either.

About being normal - or trying to be:
I think the author came through with the message, it just took forever in so many confusing turns that it lost me. I was loving it at the beginning, but i grew tired of (view spoiler)


message 29: by Pien (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pien | 503 comments Oof yes, now it’s pretty hard to remember how I felt about this book.
But bits are still in my old and vague memory... 😉
What irritated me was the way language was used. No ‘speak marks’, whatever those are called, and the conversations were probably realistic, but ugly. Sometimes even hard to follow.
It’s ‘normal’, I guess, but not my style. I read a book because I enjoy beautiful language, and interesting turns and characters.
Mariannes behavior was mostly understandable to me, but Connors? I didn’t often get where he was coming from, how his upbringing influenced his behavior later on.
I liked the switch they made on their roles towards each other, thought that was a nice find. But I wasn’t blown away at all.
Maybe I should see the movie?


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, Pien, i can recommend the movie, because you don´t have to do any hard work (reading bad writing), you can just sit back and hate/love the characters - and enjoy when they switch roles, it´s a sweet revenge in a sence.
- and the characters were quite lovable in the movie (IMO)


message 31: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane (journojane) | 46 comments Pien wrote: "Oof yes, now it’s pretty hard to remember how I felt about this book.
But bits are still in my old and vague memory... 😉
What irritated me was the way language was used. No ‘speak marks’, whatever ..."


Pien - I totally agree with you about being put off from the start by the absence of speech punctuation, and I too wasn't very impressed by the novel. I also love beautiful writing and this didn't fit that - and neither the characters nor story compensate. Connor doesn't have much personality and didn't seem to develop. As for plot, what made anyone think there was one?!


message 32: by Pien (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pien | 503 comments Maybe there’s not a clear plot because in normal life there usually isn’t? Or do other people think there is a plot?


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

If you are right about the missing plot, Pien, (i think you are), then i know why the book is not a favorite of mine, it makes sense.


message 34: by Keli, Keli Snail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Keli | 433 comments Mod
So, again I seem to be in the minority on this one. I thought the book was just shy of fantastic. I did not have to deal with any of the punctuation, or lack thereof, because I got to listen to the lilting tones of an Irish narrator. She did a brilliant job. I might have liked this book so much because I read an opinion article from the Independent(I think) that took a negative view of the relationship between Maryanne and Connal. Granted she was commenting on the tv series but I thought she completely missed the mark. She talked about the toxicity of the relationship and the unequal power dynamic, both of which I think she got kind of wrong. Or maybe the series got it wrong.
Maryanne was broken before she got into a relationship with Connal. And though it was not a healthy relationship, Connal probably gave her more than she'd ever had emotionally. Was he a knight in shining armour? Absolutely not. But he was a teenage boy whose assumption of Maryanne's life was way off. I think if he had known what kind of life she had, he might have been better. Did he use her? Yes. Was he wrong in his high school treatment of her? Yes. Was his behaviour all bad? No. I think he gave her a modicum of love that she was completely lacking. I think early on Maryanne did much more for Connal than vice versa, but he gave her love (granted mostly physical) and attention.
ButI think in the second half of the novel Connal helped Maryanne. He couldn't undo what he did in his youth but he came through in adulthood. I won't go into it specifically, so as not to give anything away but there were several instances where Connal gave Maryanne the love and support and strength she needed.
As women we are often told the we can't change or save somebody. If we pick a broken man, we can't fix him. This applies just as equally to women. Men or women can't fix a broken woman. Maryanne had a multitude of issues that only Maryanne, likely with extensive counselling, could fix. Connal was never going to do it. But no man could. All of Maryanne's relationships were going to be fairly toxic. So I read this story and took away the positive that Connal, an imperfect and also vulnerable young man, and Maryanne brought to each other.
I appreciated the realism and rawness of their tumultuous relationship and found it compelling.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Good review, Keli, and I do agree with most of it, more or less, I just did not care for the writing style and the (imo) missing plot, it was a kind of non-fullfilling, which might have been the authors point 🤷🏼‍♀️


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