Seven Reasons Why ‘Normal People’ is the Best Love Story of 2018
By Resh Susan
Ever since I read Sally Rooney’s Normal People, I cannot stop talking about it. The novel was a breath of fresh air; delicious prose, realistic characters and unabashedly romantic. Here is why you should pick up the book as soon as possible.
1. Characters That Speak To You
Marianne and Connell are teenagers attending school in rural Ireland. We are introduced to Marianne as an awkward loner reading Swann’s Way in the school lunch hall. Connell on the other hand, is the popular guy at school; football player with a large group of friends. Connell is drawn to Marianne just as she is to him. He wants to impress her, wants her in his life but is too insecure to conquer the peer pressure of accepting her into his school life circle. Like most high school stories, this ‘secret’ relationship ends. Fast forward to both of them getting admitted into Trinity College, Dublin. The tables turn. Now Marianne easily fits into the new world while Connell feels out of place. But they have this electrifying connection every time they cross paths.
2. Emotions That Strangle You
I do not mean to exaggerate here, but Normal People is going to squeeze your heart out; literally. There is the familiar confusion in young love, the indecisiveness, the selfishness to not let go and the urge to move on in life. You will choke on your feelings with every page. There is a lot of sex in the book, though nothing very explicit, and I loved how beautifully Rooney demonstrates the journey from clumsy teenagers exploring one another to adults who are comfortable with their desires.
3.The Millennial Life
Ever read books and feel like twenty year old characters speak like fifty year olds? Not with Normal People! The dialogues are witty and fresh. I was transported straight to my early college days. Rooney is brilliant in her depiction of the odd way personal relationships develop and drift away. Miscommunication and misunderstanding wriggle into the lives of the star crossed lovers. The novel explores our needs in relationships at different stages of life; sometimes love is enough but sometimes we long for more to hold onto.
4. Will They, Won’t They?
The ‘meet-drift’ routine sounds cliché, but aren’t all love stories like that? Rooney is masterful in keeping the suspense of the story over the span of five years (2011-2014) as nerve wrecking as possible. This leaves you anxious because you want Marianne and Connell to end up together but you are also wondering ‘But then what?’.
5. Not Just a Love Story
Even though the relationship between Marianne and Connell is the crux of the novel, Normal People also explores socio economic differences between families and feeling of alienation in one’s own house. There are several minor characters in the story, none overpowering or underwhelming. There is the sexist bully, a man who exploits women on the internet, Marianne’s abusive brother, her unfeeling mother, Connell’s friendly mother, boyfriends and girlfriends.
6. The Structure
Sally Rooney presents her characters in alternating POVs, in chapters titled ‘After a month’, ‘After five minutes’ and the like. Both Connell and Marianne are such darlings, yet deeply flawed. I hated Connell for being a complete douchebag at school but later, I warmed up to him. I loved Marianne but occasionally wanted to scream at her. The story frequently jumps into events of the past which adds to the complexity of the plot
7. The Hangover…
My first thought after finishing the book was, ‘When do I re-read?’ It is no wonder that the book was longlisted for the Man Booker 2018. An adaptation for the BBC is also in progress (so pick up the book before it hits the screens). Marianne and Connell are normal people and their story is guaranteed to give you the best book hangover ever.
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About the Author
Resh Susan eats words and creates stories. When she isn’t reading, writing, editing or clicking pictures, she advocates her love for broccoli to anyone who crosses her path. You can find her engrossed in creative pursuits where she tries to find the magic in the ordinary.
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