Thursday, September 5, 2019

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney
I greatly enjoyed this story of two young lovers falling in and out of each other's orbits in high school and college, set in Ireland. In Normal People by Sally Rooney, Connell is a popular, yet poor, kid in high school. Marianne is the rich kid snubbed as an oddball.

Marianne has a low sense of her own self and lets others treat her as they will, so she puts up with Connell's demand that their relationship be secret. He's constantly worried what people will think. They drift apart due to one of many instances of miscommunication and misunderstanding each other that they'll have over the years.

But at college, Marianne is reborn, socially, at least. She fits in with the wealthy kids, she becomes popular, she changes her look and her beauty doesn't go unnoticed now. Connell's experience is the opposite, where here he feels out of place, not fitting in with the confidence and lifestyle of his more affluent peers.

Class and social standing play a role in how the characters see themselves and others. It affects their decisions and drives some misunderstandings. More than anything, I think both Marianne and Connell are disassociated from themselves, from their own feelings. So how can they help but be a disassociated from each other, even as they want to cling to each other, save each other?

This bones of this story are about the complex psychological motivations coming from within and without its two main characters. The misunderstandings and communication failures this inspires are tragic and easy to imagine being real. We've all been there to some extent, worrying someone else was judging something about us that they hadn't given much thought to in reality, or failing to explain something that needed explaining.

There aren't a lot of peaks in this book; it vibrates on a low-key, somber frequency. I saw a positive, hopeful aspect to the tale by the end, but it was just a glimmer. Maybe it was my imagination, maybe you wouldn't see it the same way. It's definitely worth reading to discover for yourself.

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