Normal People: Novela

4 out of 5 stars

I read this book in Dublin, when I was terribly lonely and missing my son like crazy. I read it on the train. I read it on daily walks to the Muji store (actually, I found it at a bookshop next to it). Sally Rooney’s voice makes you feel implicit: what an incredible young writer. I’ve also read Conversations with Friends, and I think I prefer this book. Rooney created a claustrophobic atmosphere inhabited by seemingly “normal people.” This book felt dangerous, especially to those attached to longing and suffering in conversation with unconditional love. It was easy to romanticize Marianne and Connell because they were both beautiful. It made it harder to judge them.

The show is gorgeous, cinematic, and perfection in its depiction of Connell—he is both tender and violent when he least means it. The music rises to a lovely staccato when necessary. Silence is also necessary to fill in the spaces Marianne and Connell can’t reach across.

When I read this piece, I couldn’t think of anything like it, though now I feel Irish writers will be placed against Rooney in the future. The style wasn’t easy, but it was spellbinding, and I think it made the book worth the read.

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