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Normal People
Cover of Normal People
Normal People
A Novel
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NOW AN EMMY-NOMINATED HULU ORIGINAL SERIES • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships” (People) from the author of...
NOW AN EMMY-NOMINATED HULU ORIGINAL SERIES • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships” (People) from the author of...
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  • NOW AN EMMY-NOMINATED HULU ORIGINAL SERIES • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships” (People) from the author of Conversations with Friends, “a master of the literary page-turner” (J. Courtney Sullivan).
     
    ONE OF THE TEN BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE—Entertainment Weekly

    TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—People, Slate, The New York Public Library, Harvard Crimson

    AND BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—The New York TimesThe New York Times Book Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Vogue, Esquire, Glamour, Elle, Marie Claire, Vox, The Paris Review, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country
    Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation—awkward but electrifying—something life changing begins.
    A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
    Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.
     
    Praise for Normal People
     
    “[A] novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting.”The Washington Post

    “Arguably the buzziest novel of the season, Sally Rooney’s elegant sophomore effort . . . is a worthy successor to Conversations with Friends. Here, again, she unflinchingly explores class dynamics and young love with wit and nuance.”The Wall Street Journal
    “[Rooney] has been hailed as the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism. . . . [She writes] some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”The New Yorker
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    January 2011

    Marianne answers the door when Connell rings the bell. She's still wearing her school uniform, but she's taken off the sweater, so it's just the blouse and skirt, and she has no shoes on, only tights.

    Oh, hey, he says.

    Come on in.

    She turns and walks down the hall. He follows her, closing the door behind him. Down a few steps in the kitchen, his mother Lorraine is peeling off a pair of rubber gloves. Marianne hops onto the countertop and picks up an open jar of chocolate spread, in which she has left a teaspoon.

    Marianne was telling me you got your mock results today, Lorraine says.

    We got English back, he says. They come back separately. Do you want to head on?

    Lorraine folds the rubber gloves up neatly and replaces them below the sink. Then she starts unclipping her hair. To Connell this seems like something she could accomplish in the car.

    And I hear you did very well, she says.

    He was top of the class, says Marianne.

    Right, Connell says. Marianne did pretty good too. Can we go?

    Lorraine pauses in the untying of her apron.

    I didn't realize we were in a rush, she says.

    He puts his hands in his pockets and suppresses an irritable sigh, but suppresses it with an audible intake of breath, so that it still sounds like a sigh.

    I just have to pop up and take a load out of the dryer, says Lorraine. And then we'll be off. Okay?

    He says nothing, merely hanging his head while Lorraine leaves the room.

    Do you want some of this? Marianne says.

    She's holding out the jar of chocolate spread. He presses his hands down slightly further into his pockets, as if trying to store his entire body in his pockets all at once.

    No, thanks, he says.

    Did you get your French results today?

    Yesterday.

    He puts his back against the fridge and watches her lick the spoon. In school he and Marianne affect not to know each other. People know that Marianne lives in the white mansion with the driveway and that Connell's mother is a cleaner, but no one knows of the special relationship between these facts.

    I got an A1, he says. What did you get in German?

    An A1, she says. Are you bragging?

    You're going to get six hundred, are you?

    She shrugs. You probably will, she says.

    Well, you're smarter than me.

    Don't feel bad. I'm smarter than everyone.

    Marianne is grinning now. She exercises an open contempt for people in school. She has no friends and spends her lunchtimes alone reading novels. A lot of people really hate her. Her father died when she was thirteen and Connell has heard she has a mental illness now or something. It's true she is the smartest person in school. He dreads being left alone with her like this, but he also finds himself fantasizing about things he could say to impress her.

    You're not top of the class in English, he points out.

    She licks her teeth, unconcerned.

    Maybe you should give me grinds, Connell, she says.

    He feels his ears get hot. She's probably just being glib and not suggestive, but if she is being suggestive it's only to degrade him by association, since she is considered an object of disgust. She wears ugly thick-soled flat shoes and doesn't put makeup on her face. People have said she doesn't shave her legs or anything. Connell once heard that she spilled chocolate ice cream on herself in the school lunchroom, and she went to the girls' bathrooms and took her blouse off to wash it in the sink. That's a popular story about her, everyone has heard it. If she wanted, she could make a big show of saying hello to Connell in school. See you this afternoon, she could say, in front of...

About the Author-

  • Sally Rooney was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesGranta and The London Review of Books. Winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, she is the author of Conversations with Friends. In 2019, she was named to the inaugural Time 100 Next list.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    November 15, 2018

    In this follow-up to Irish author Rooney's award-winning debut, Conversations with Friends, center-of-everyone's-attention Connell connects with proud, inward Marianne when he picks up his moter from work at Marianne's house. Their attraction continues at Trinity College in Dublin, but will Marianne's self-destructive tendencies end it all?

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 1, 2019
    A young Irish couple gets together, splits up, gets together, splits up--sorry, can't tell you how it ends!Irish writer Rooney has made a trans-Atlantic splash since publishing her first novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. Her second has already won the Costa Novel Award, among other honors, since it was published in Ireland and Britain last year. In outline it's a simple story, but Rooney tells it with bravura intelligence, wit, and delicacy. Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan are classmates in the small Irish town of Carricklea, where his mother works for her family as a cleaner. It's 2011, after the financial crisis, which hovers around the edges of the book like a ghost. Connell is popular in school, good at soccer, and nice; Marianne is strange and friendless. They're the smartest kids in their class, and they forge an intimacy when Connell picks his mother up from Marianne's house. Soon they're having sex, but Connell doesn't want anyone to know and Marianne doesn't mind; either she really doesn't care, or it's all she thinks she deserves. Or both. Though one time when she's forced into a social situation with some of their classmates, she briefly fantasizes about what would happen if she revealed their connection: "How much terrifying and bewildering status would accrue to her in this one moment, how destabilising it would be, how destructive." When they both move to Dublin for Trinity College, their positions are swapped: Marianne now seems electric and in-demand while Connell feels adrift in this unfamiliar environment. Rooney's genius lies in her ability to track her characters' subtle shifts in power, both within themselves and in relation to each other, and the ways they do and don't know each other; they both feel most like themselves when they're together, but they still have disastrous failures of communication. "Sorry about last night," Marianne says to Connell in February 2012. Then Rooney elaborates: "She tries to pronounce this in a way that communicates several things: apology, painful embarrassment, some additional pained embarrassment that serves to ironise and dilute the painful kind, a sense that she knows she will be forgiven or is already, a desire not to 'make a big deal.' " Then: "Forget about it, he says." Rooney precisely articulates everything that's going on below the surface; there's humor and insight here as well as the pleasure of getting to know two prickly, complicated people as they try to figure out who they are and who they want to become.Absolutely enthralling. Read it.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • New York Review of Books "[Rooney's] two carefully observed and gentle comedies of manners . . . are tender portraits of Irish college students. . . . Remarkably precise--she captures meticulously the way a generation raised on social data thinks and talks."

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    Random House Publishing Group
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