Chosen by Jodie
Marianne and Connell struggle to define themselves in their on-again, off-again relationship
✚ “Normal People follows the lives and relationship of Irish students Connell and Marianne. Born to different social classes, the two experience fluctuating power struggles and divisions. Their place in society has framed how they see themselves, but the crises and challenges they experience together and as individuals helps them develop their true selves.
“The spotlight on the two protagonists is bright – the 28-year old author has an obvious understanding of the troubles and influences in a young adult’s live, yet has made them appealing to all generations. Though the couple’s relationship is rocky, and on-again, off-again, it is the only constant in the book, therefore endearing them to the reader and encouraging us to be a part of the journey.
All these years, they’ve been like two little plants sharing the same plot of soil, growing around one another, contorting to make room, taking certain unlikely positions.
“Around them are a number of interesting antagonists who indulge in unkindness, violence, and in off-limit sexual deviancy. They are often stereotypical but are examples found in real life class struggles so never feel cliched. The author uses Marianne’s complex history to explore the detrimental effects of poor behaviour on an individual’s ability to navigate life. And how normalising chauvinistic behaviour can become ingrained in social attitudes.
“But Marianne’s relationship with Connell counters these by demonstrating that such trends do not need to define every relationship. For theirs is one that involves deep conversations and connection and beautiful sex. It does also, however, feature misunderstandings and complications that compound the characters’ insecurities but these add to the intrigue and desperation of the story.
“All the bookclubbers appreciated the clearly beautiful and clever writing style, but had different experiences in the impact the book had upon them. It is not plot heavy so a connection to Marianne and Connell is key to enjoyment of the book.”