Normal People by Sally Rooney
The last line of the book:
I’ll always be here. You know that.
Don’t you love it when the first sentence of a novel connects seamlessly with the last? It gives the whole story a gift-wrapped feeling. The first line and last line of this book are like the catch that turns a string into a circle. And these two lines basically sum up their entire dynamic: Marianne will always answer the door when it’s Connell ringing the bell. She will always be here.
This book reminds me so much of my favourite book, One Day by David Nicholls. It follows the years of these two people’s lives–two people who keep coming back to each other because of an attachment that neither can explain.
First of all, the book was wonderfully written. The language was poetic without being flowery, and the dialogue felt natural. The characters were very real to me, even though not as relatable. I couldn’t really identify with either of them, but that was okay. In this story I didn’t really need to relate to either character in order to care about them, kind of like when you can’t understand a friend’s decision, but you support them anyway.
I feel that this book is not so much trying to address any issues about sexuality as simply just bringing attention to the fact that there are various different people with different preferences, but they are still just people, even if we cannot understand them. At least that’s what I took away from it. There were no heavy handed morals or judgements being handed down–just an interesting look into the lives of two people and the ones who love them.
My favourite dynamic in this book is the relationship between Connell and his mother. It was wholesome, even though they were not a wholesome family. Connell calls his mother by her first name, which I think shows the maturity and closeness of their relationship rather than the emotional distance it might initially imply.
Overall I would read this book again. This book reads like it has many layers, enough to be discovered by second and third readings. Plus it’s just enjoyable. It was not a suspense novel where you are just reading it to get to the Big Reveal, but I was emotionally invested enough in the characters to want to keep reading.