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Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

by Beca Damico 10 months ago in travel
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my thoughts on the new york times bestseller

“I’m not a religious person but I do sometimes think God made you for me”

Normal People was beautiful and heartbreaking. Sally Rooney has an incredible way with words that makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with the characters. She writes in a raw, passionate way about the awkward moments in life that we all experience but are too scared and embarrassed to talk about.

Connell and Marianne’s relationship is incredibly dysfunctional, on and off, confusing, but also somehow poetic. In the way most poems are heart shattering, and incite deep self-analysis. It encapsulates everything a relationship should and shouldn’t be, the good, the bad and the ugly. Their story is almost an anti love story in the most romantic way possible. These two extremely dimensional characters must learn how to grow up and navigate the ups and downs of college, mental health, abuse, death, sexuality, substance use and other aspects of life. The two protagonists are so different, yet aching to feel like they belong somewhere and ultimately decide that the only place they belong is together, only to later discover that by staying together they would self-destruct. Connell and Marianne are incredibly relatable, they're awkward, hesitant, have deep commitment issues, and lack self-confidence in a way that most teenagers and college students can relate to. I personally enjoyed their vulnerability and intimacy, and Rooney’s way of painting them just like any other teenagers. It can be easy to picture (or even confuse) Connell and Marianne as full blown adults, but in reality they are kids who have undergone so much trauma that it causes them to act older than they are. The novel reminded me that many times once we meet someone, we have no way of knowing what their story is, what they’re going through and what they need help with. Rooney emphasizes the power of communication in any relationship. Many times Connell and Marianne could have resolved their issues and maybe even become happier if they had simply sat down and communicated their feelings to one another. Miscommunication can cause stress and anger but it is so easily avoidable! Additionally, the novel serves as a reminder that life is short, and nothing and no one is forever. Say what you want, do what you want, and don’t live in regret. In this novel, Rooney also taught me that it’s ok to say goodbye to someone you love and that sometimes they truly are better off without you and that’s okay.

Sally Rooney’s words flew off the page and surrounded me like a warm hug at times, but felt cold, sharp and painful during others. Some don’t enjoy Rooney’s lack of quotation marks around dialogue, and I will admit that I was also hesitant at first, but I found it very easy to understand. This stylistic choice works in this novel because it almost suggests that characters are so unsure of themselves and their actions that they don’t want to claim their words. Language and dialogue are extremely important and powerful, authors place quotations around dialogue to demonstrate a character is talking and we should listen; the MLA format requires we use quotations around pieces we take from other texts as to call attention to another writer’s work. By rejecting quotations, Rooney portrays her character’s lack of self-confidence, and desire to disappear (or even moments where they felt invisible.) Connell and Marianne are so unsure of themselves, and their futures that they can't even take charge of their own speech. (Maybe this isn't why Rooney decided to neglect quotations, but it's what I interpreted it as). It’s brilliant if you ask me.

I look forward to reading more of Sally Rooney’s novels!


About the author

Beca Damico

hi :) my name is beca and im a freshman at nyu! i love writing more than anything. in my opinion writing is the best form of self expression. here i will get to share what i am passionate about, i hope you enjoy.

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