What defines a ‘normal person’? Is that when you have the same ideas and opinions as everyone at your high school, but then: what happens when you leave home and get out in the world? Or are you more normal when you’re unapologetically you, even if that means people don’t understand you?
The book is a story about love, but it’s not a romance. No prince or princess, and a whole lot of real world. It’s about growing up, leaving life as you knew behind and moving on, about fate and how to deal with that. I hadn’t heart about Sally Rooney before, but I saw a review of the book in a newspaper and it spiked my interest so I went out and bought it.
The book follows two young people from the final days of their high school experience till halfway through university. Marianne grew up in a (slight cliché) money wise rich family but without a love. Connell grew up with only his mom, who is Marianne’s cleaner. They are poor, but love and value each other. So far the clichés though, because Connell is good with people and Marianne is not. At least not in high school, which is why they decide to keep their relationship hidden. When they move to the university that changes. Marianne is finally around people she feels more comfortable with, while Connell is struggling to figure out his place in the world and amongst people.
No common ground between us
What they have in common is that they are both super smart. They were at the top of their high school and are at top of their classes in University. So yeah, normal people… During the novel, you get an idea of how they connect and how they grow, with and without each other.
She believes Marianne lacks ‘warmth’, by which she means the ability to beg for love from people who hate her
Sally Rooney manages to write a book that you know it’ll be a classic. It’s not like any book I’ve read before. While I was reading it, it made me feel a bit anxious and it took me a while to figure out why. The whole novel exists of moments. Every chapter is another jump in time, whether it’s three weeks of six months. The characters and their story feel like friends who you see occasionally, someone you bump into at a party and is your friend’s roommate. I never got a real connection with them, but once I finished the book I did miss them. They feel very realistic and familiar.
There are a lot of things glossed over (break-up, holidays, classes) and only briefly mentioned. This all contributes the connection to reality where anyone would just tell the highlights quickly and focus on the current situation.
It’s a grand, realistic love in modern times.