Book Review: Normal People


Claire Qiu, Journalist

At the beginning of quarantine, new designed-for-at-home trends began to pop up. Make your own sourdough! Learn to knit! Garden! Write a book! Among these trends was a show that no one could stop bingeing and a book that no one could put down: Normal People, by Irish author Sally Rooney.

Normal People is a complex novel that explores love, relationships, friendships, and the patterns and psychology that governs humans at their core. It follows the story of Connell and Marianne, who meet in high school. Connell is popular, while Marianne is a social pariah. Despite all this, they begin a secret relationship governed by Connell’s fear of being found out, and Marianne’s fear of opening herself up to what begins to seem a lot like love.

Fast forward a few years, and Marianne and Connell are college students at Trinity College Dublin, only this time, the roles are reversed. Marianne is popular, while Connell has difficulties fitting in. Throughout the novel, even as they date other people and get on with their lives, they are continually drawn to each other.

This novel is a scintillating read with a simple setup and minimal, refined language that nevertheless manages to provide insight into just how people, and their relationships, work. Connell and Marianne both manage to be likeable, perhaps because they, at their core, are relatable and refreshingly normal. Normal People is a quick yet thought-provoking read that is sure to provide food for thought during any long winter quarantine afternoon.