Sally Rooney’s Normal People
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber) Reviewer:
Donal O’Donoghue Oh what an entrancing tale this is of growing up and into the world. Like JD Salinger’s timeless rites of teen, Rooney, just 27 but seemingly wise beyond her years, brilliantly teases out what makes us tick. As with her lauded debut, Conversations with Friends, this novel reveals a keenly attuned writer with an ear for what people say, and don’t say, and the spaces in between. Normal People is a love story with all the messy bits. Marianne and Connell, friends from a country town in the West of Ireland, are connected by some primal lack and both are the odd ones out. In school, Connell is the popular one, while in college the roles are reversed. Rooney brilliantly nails those Fresher years, the alienation and loneliness, the need to be liked and the desire to be cool, or at least appear so. Beyond that though, is the aching human desire to belong and be loved no matter what you are or what people think you are. Rooney’s prose is beguilingly simple yet utterly true in what is surely a very short-odds Man Booker (it has been long-listed) contender.