November 2021 Book Club Pick: Normal People 

*Written by: Maeve Kelly*

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney follows the lives of two classmates, Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan, as they learn to love, let go and learn. 

Credit: World Literature Today

An unlikely pair, Connell, the popular football star, and Marianne, the loner girl, begin a friendship that changes the course of their young lives. Set in a small town in Western Ireland, Connell and Marianne cross paths in their secondary school and at Marianne’s home where Connell’s mother is the house cleaner. Connell, sick of his popular friends who don’t have the intellectual and deep conversations he yearns for, begins a secret friendship with Marianne. 

Their friendship of stolen glances and small conversations about favorite books develops into a physical relationship that they continue to keep a secret. The love they share for each other never leaves even when they stop talking prior to university. Their love follows them all the way to college where their social standings have seemed to flip.

Marianne is now the popular girl who everyone wants to know, and Connell is the brooding Irish boy with few friends. The two are magnetically pulled together but constantly find themselves pulling away. 

Normal People is the story of two people who seem so different but are eerily similar. The story of two people who can’t resist love no matter how hard they try. Read to try and understand the complexities of their care for one another and question how far you’d go for the person you love. 

I read this book in less than two days, unable to leave too long without knowing what happened to these lovers next. Each character has such raw emotions that force you to think beyond what’s written on the paper. Connell and Marianne are not very verbal people, and their actions carry this story of love and loss. I first picked this book up when Hulu created a show out of it (I always read the book version before watching a screen version) and instantly fell in love with the plot and Sally Rooney’s style. 

Credit: Hulu

The Hulu show “Normal People,” is a must-watch 12-episode series that depicts Connell and Marianne’s lives in a way very true to the original text. The shots of Ireland and those small stolen glances make you wish you had a budding romance in the rolling green hills. Much like the book, I watched the whole series in a matter of hours and recommended it to every person I met. 

About Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney is the author of three books, “Normal People,” “Conversations with Friends,” and her latest publication, “Beautiful World, Where Are You.” Her unique writing style, void of quotation marks that force you to think about the dialogue as complex thoughts and emotions, lends itself beautifully to the story of Marianne and Connell. She grew up in the West of Ireland where all of her books are set, and attended Trinity College Dublin, just like the main characters of this book. Her novel “Conversations with Friends,” (another one of my 5-star recommendations) is also being made into a Hulu series expected to air next year. 

Sally Rooney, Credit: The Irish Times


Where can I find this book?

We always recommend using Bookshop to support local bookstores.

Where can I find the TV series?

Watch for free with a Hulu subscription. 

Where can I find more about Sally Rooney?

Read her recent Vogue feature here!