The cool boy and the awkward girl navigate high school. Plot twist. The cool girl and the awkward boy navigate college. Plot twist. Two equally weird adults navigate adulthood.
Connell and Marianne spend their time in high school struggling through their strange connection while simultaneously trying to hide it from everyone around them. As they transition into adulthood they kind of just follow life’s ebbs and flows to and from each other. I would say Normal People is one part coming of age story, one part romance novel, and all weird. Initially, I tried very hard to like Marianne. I pitied her at times and was annoyed by her at others but I couldn’t actually care for her. She spends the entirety of the novel tetter-tottering between brilliance and self-destruction.
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Connell is no better. Marianne’s family employs his mother as a maid and the damage to his self-esteem concerning that is palpable at times. I was so detached from these characters emotionally that I didn’t really care how their story ended. I just cared that it ended.
I’m no stranger to a good raunchy novel. I went through a Zane and Eric Jerome Dickey phase like most other folks. I wouldn’t say that Normal People is raunchy or overly sexual, but I will say that the sex scenes were just……weird. Connell has a visceral reaction to sexual encounters. At one point I even wanted his character to be gay. I felt like that would at least explain his abnormal response to sleeping with women. But nope, I was just left with strangely uncomfortable, heterosexual sex scenes.
All in all
Just because I wasn’t head over heels for a book doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. If you like coming of age tales Normal People may be a good fit for you. Also, if you like romance stories that aren’t sickeningly sappy then you would probably enjoy this story as well. Read Sally Rooney‘s Normal People and come back and let me know what you think.