Winner of Novel of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards
Winner of the 2018 Costa Award
Marianne and Connell meet because his mother cleans her mother's house. Despite their differences in class, they recognize in one another a sense of being ill-fit in their world. This unlikely connection follows them to university, to Dublin, and through their young, twinned becomings. But this is far from a simple love story. It's an utterly poignant and often gutting dissection of a relationship, of all relationships: their tendency to shift and pull like tectonic plates; how they change; how they change us. Rooney has a filmic feel for perfect details and a godly insight into our secret hearts. Recommended By Thomas L., Powells.com
Normal People is an apt title for a book focusing on unspectacular events involving unremarkable characters. A simplistic and superficial reading could call it a love story. However, those elements belie the true heart of the novel: a psychological and emotional exploration of what draws and keeps two people together. Upon introduction to the alternating narrators, Connell and Marianne, Rooney establishes a complex and nuanced power dynamic. While the two teenagers attend the same school, Connell enjoys the social currency of popularity that remains elusive to Marianne. This is countered by the wealth disparity revealed on learning Marianne's mother employs Connell's as their housekeeper. What follows is an unexpected journey of their interweaving lives in this novel that truly feels of the moment. Recommended By Melissa A., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A wondrous and wise coming-of-age love story from the celebrated author of Conversations With Friends
At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He's popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her 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 at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And 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.
“Sally Rooney’s Normal People is the deeply felt story of a foundational relationship at the margin of friendship and true love, of shame and devotion. This inventive and profound novel proves what great fiction can do — it can open a world at the seams.” Emma Straub, author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers
“I went into a tunnel with this book and didn’t want to come out. Absolutely engrossing and surprisingly heart-breaking with more depth, subtlety, and insight than any one novel deserves. Young love is a subject of much scorn, but Rooney understands the cataclysmic effects our youth has on the people we become. She has restored not only love’s dignity, but also its significance.” Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
“I’m transfixed by the way Rooney works, and I’m hardly the only one… like any confident couturier, she’s slicing the free flow of words into the perfect shape… She writes about tricky commonplace things (text messages, sex) with a familiarity no one else has.” The Paris Review
About the Author
Sally Rooney was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta and The London Review of Books. Winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2017, she is the author of Conversations With Friends and the editor of the Irish literary journal The Stinging Fly.