Normal People by Sally Rooney, Aoife McMahon (Narrator)
Published April 16th 2019 by Random House Audio
3 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐
This is a very different book to what I usually read, but I liked it, didn’t love it, but did like it. It is a story about Normal People, just like the title says. The two main characters are Connell, a popular high school student and loner, somewhat odd, Marianne. They are completely different, but are drawn to each other and have an intense relationship. Fast forward a year and they are both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. We see them in reversed roles, with Marianne the popular party girl and Connell, the misfit. But again, they are drawn to each other. We read about different relationships they have, some damaging, but they always manage to find their way back together.
This is a slow moving, relatively short story about two ordinary people and their lives, their loves, their growth during their high school and college lives. They have a complex friendship, that is at times hard to understand. There are things in their past that set them on the direction they took, but it was only hinted at, there was not a lot of background given, which I would have liked to know more about. I liked these characters, but I did not like many of the choices they made. They often sabotaged relationships and their own lives by some of the decisions they made. The story is set in 2011 in Ireland, much in Dublin. The free and loose college activities were definitely at play in this story. The story is told in both Marianne’s and Connell’s POV. It was interesting to see what each was thinking about the same situation. Overall, this was an interesting story about growing up, falling in love, making life choices and making mistakes. Just a book about Normal People, people’s perceptions to them and how it affects them. The Audiobook was narrated by Aoife McMahon. I have to say, that I loved her performance and will definitely not hesitate to listen to other books she narrates. Her expression, tone and voice were exactly what I would have expected.
About the Book: At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.
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 in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, 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.
Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.