BOOK REVIEW: NORMAL PEOPLE BY SALLY ROONEY

A dedicated blog post for just one book? Yes. Because I have thoughts.

There’s only a hand full of books I’ve read twice in my life, let alone twice in 4 months. But here were are, insert Sally Rooney’s Normal People.

https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/04/hulu-normal-people-sally-rooney-radical-romance/610921/

After seeing Normal People plastered all over bookstagram, Goodreads, and Book of the Month, I dove head first in August, knowing very well that it was a polarizing book – some people absolutely loved it while others absolutely hated it. My initial impression was wow, these characters are so unlikeable. Page after page I just kept feeling more and more frustrated with the yo-yoing relationship of the two main characters, Marianne and Connell. After my first encounter and read through, I rated it a 3/5 stars, shocked anyone could love this book or its characters.

After dragging my feet, I finally started the Hulu mini series. Let’s just say I marathoned the 12 episodes over two days and sobbed, seriously sobbed e.g. the concluding scene. I was in no way expecting that response because given my lukewarm feelings for both Connell and Marianne while reading the first time around. But wow, they really came to life for me on screen. There’s something just so annoying and bizarre about their miscommunication that is so infuriating in the book but oddly endearing on screen. I was pleasantly surprised how closely the dialogue and plot of the show resembled the book; it made re-reading the book more enjoyable. I’ll also add, I felt it was easier to understand the disparities in social class and status between Marianne and Connell while watching the show – I didn’t so easily pick up on this division between the main characters which, in hindsight, significantly drives the plot.

Having enjoyed the show so much, I figured what the heck, let’s request the book from the library and give it another shot. Reading the second time around, I definitely didn’t hate the characters nearly as much. Are Connell and Marianne the two most cerebral, disjointed, and inarticulate characters on the (fictional literary) planet?? YES IN ALL CAPS. I definitely found it easier to sympathize with the characters the second time around, and, personally, loved having the actors as reference to reimagine the scenes in my mind.

In conclusion, the book lands a 4/5 for me. The Hulu miniseries a 10/10 easily, would watch again (and likely sob, again).

Additional Resources
Normal People Hulu Original Series Trailer linked here
Normal People Season 2: Everything We Know // Elle article linked here
How Normal People Made Sex You Actually Believe // Elle article linked here
The Irresistible Intimacy of Normal People // The Atlantic article linked here

Until tomorrow, Meryn


2 Replies to “BOOK REVIEW: NORMAL PEOPLE BY SALLY ROONEY”

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