Written by: Madeleine Jenness
The book “Normal People,” by Sally Rooney, depicts the ebbs and flows of love between Connell and Marianne across a number of years at the end of high school and into college. We gain glimpses into their lives as they connect and reconnect over the years, and at different points in their relationship. From social discrepancies, to trivialities of popularity, and tribulations of an inescapable relationship drenched in guilt and confusion, “Normal People” is sexy, gut-wrenching, and worthy of an all-night read.
“Normal People,” set in Ireland, describes the lingering longing between two people who’ve known each other’s intimacies. It shows just how turbulent relationships in the transition from high school to college can be, how changing social status impacts people, and fulfills all fantasies of hooking up with that one ex you could never get over.
Rooney’s ability to write characters is unlike any other. Connell and Marianne are challenged, transformed, and pushed to the emotional extremes of life. This is no typical YA Novel love story. Rather, “Normal People” deals with real-life fears, and begs the question that even if there were no real obstacles in love, would it still work?
The synopsis reads as follows:
The novel is about the complex friendship and relationship between two teenagers, Connell and Marianne, who both attend the same secondary school in County Sligo and, later, Trinity College Dublin. It is set during the 2000s downturn period. In the book’s story, Connell is a popular, handsome and highly intelligent secondary schooler who begins a relationship with unpopular, intimidating and equally intelligent Marianne whose mother employs his mother as a cleaner. Connell keeps the affair a secret from school friends out of shame but ends up attending Trinity alongside her after the summer and reconciling. Well-off Marianne blossoms at university becoming pretty and popular while Connell struggles to fit in properly for the first time in his life. The pair weave in and out of each other’s lives across their university years developing an intense bond that brings to light the traumas and insecurities that make them both who they are. (Wikipedia).
“Normal People” has recently been made into a TV series that will be dropping soon. Upon watching the trailer for it on Hulu, I was disappointed at how it depicted the story. Of course, seeing that it hasn’t been released yet I will have to wait and see how well the show follows the book. But I felt that the trailer lacked the softness that the pair had for each other in the book, in exchange for a blunt, singularly-faceted relationship common in hookup culture. I felt the trailer didn’t connect with the hindrances in their relationship much at all, preferring to give us privy to all the steamy sex scenes. And while “Normal People” is indeed very centered around sex, in the novel, you find yourself having to wait, agonizingly, always asking yourself: “will they or won’t they?”
“Normal People” is set to drop on Hulu on April 29th, 2020. It will star English actress Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne, and Irish actor Paul Mescal as Connell.