Normal People by Sally Rooney is a poignant love story of two young people through their adolescent years was told amiably.
The story opens in a small town in Ireland where two teenagers go to school. Marianne, despite being rich and smart, is a social outcast for being weird at school. Her family is cold and distant. Connell, a footballer and a smart one, is popular among friends. His mother cleans the house of Marianne’s family. They hook up secretly and occasionally hang out together, have meaningful conversations, and fall asleep together. They break up abruptly right before the end of high school. When they meet again at the college, the tables have turned. Marianne becomes a popular friend everybody knows and Connell always feels like a misfit in the crowd.
Throughout the time, their feelings for each others grow and their friendship becomes stronger. However, unbeknownst to them, there’s always something breaking them apart—their own personal demons. They dated other people but they always look out for each other. The on again off again relationship or whatevership we would label between these two main protagonists was perplexing yet I find it so real. The struggles they have to fight for their demons and the inferiority for class differences are the main things secretly decaying their whatevership.
It’s clear that they love each other exceedingly but there are other things in adult life. It seemed, at first, the characters “get” each other but as the pages unfold, ‘do they really?’ I questioned. Like we sometimes think we understand certain people in our life but in fact, we only know a fraction of their life. Rooney weaved the issues of class, privilege, physical and emotional pain, depression, anxiety and mental issue into her story immaculately. Enjoyable read.