Normal People

Normal People

A Novel

Paperback - 2018
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NOW A 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).


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

AND BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR-- The New York Times , The 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
Publisher: New York : Hogarth, [2018]
Edition: First United States edition.
ISBN: 9781984822178
Characteristics: 273 pages ; 22 cm


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CPL’s Most Popular Books of 2019

Which books were most popular at Chicago Public Library in 2019? As usual, the lists are dominated by buzzy bestsellers from the previous year or two, but some 2019 titles were immediately popular enough to make the lists. Books published early in the year have more of a chance to chart for the whole year, so expect to see more of the most popular 2019 books on next year's lists. Adults… (more)

From Library Staff

In this remarkable Booker-nominated novel by Irish writer Sally Rooney, popular and bright high school jock Connell takes up a furtive relationship with the brilliant Marianne, daughter of a posh lawyer his mother works for as a house cleaner. The two have an instant connection, but Marianne is s... Read More »


In this remarkable Booker-nominated novel by Irish writer Sally Rooney, popular and bright high school jock Connell takes up a furtive relationship with the brilliant Marianne, daughter of a posh lawyer his mother works for as a house cleaner. The two have an instant connection, but Marianne is s... Read More »

In this remarkable Booker-nominated novel by Irish writer Sally Rooney, popular and bright high school jock Connell takes up a furtive relationship with the brilliant Marianne, daughter of a posh lawyer his mother works for as a house cleaner. The two have an instant connection, but Marianne is s... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 09, 2020

Takes a hot minute to get into this book but I really enjoyed it.

Aug 06, 2020

I wanted to like this book so bad, I reread it the day after I finished it the first time. That’s how desperate I was. Good thing the book is short, because reading Normal People for the second time proved to be fruitless.
Both times I was left underwhelmed. Perhaps it was because of Rooney’s style of prose, or maybe even the fact that I’m not a millennial, unlike the author and her characters. I’m guessing it’s the former. The prose was quite simple, and felt too bare at times. For example, during the characters’ conversations, I was confused as to which specific emotion accompanied each line of dialogue. Sure, I was able to infer a general vibe of emotional turmoil, but sometimes I had no idea whether a character was choking out a sentence on the verge of tears or muttering out of complete hopelessness. Other readers may like this quality of writing as it allows them to conjure aspects of the story with their imagination, thus giving it a more personal touch. Personally, I thought it made the book lack a certain level of emotional depth that would otherwise allow me to connect further to the characters.
Nonetheless, I still empathized Marianne and Connell, and I enjoyed picking up on the little ways their own inner flaws revealed themselves, whether it was through their actions or simple phrases of dialogue. Normal People loves to play the “will they, or won’t they” game with Marianne and Connell, (and also switching between Marianne being attractive or “garishly ugly”). While I rooted for them to become a couple, I wasn’t too devastated by their periods of separation as I was quite content with idea of them just being friends. Additionally, despite the large time skips, it still seemed like Marianne and Connell were constantly together somehow. To be frank, I wasn't as invested into the characters or their relationship as I think I should have been.
I’ll admit that I also enjoyed Rooney’s commentary on subjects such as class differences and privilege, and I did find some great quotes that particularly stood out to me. While this isn’t one of the “great” ones, the quote comparing Connell’s face to an “artist’s impression of a criminal” did make me laugh out loud as I imagined his face to be Robbie Rotten’s or even Waluigi’s.
After rereading the novel, I watched the Hulu adaptation and I actually really liked it, especially the actors’ interpretations of the characters. Whether or not you liked the book version of Normal People, I'd highly recommend the show.

Jul 29, 2020

Fantastic audiobook!

Jul 20, 2020

Adored it. It was so well written and flowed effortlessly despite seemingly empty dialogue of frequently used words like 'uh' and 'yeah'. Best romance book I've ever read. The TV series is also perfect and beautiful. I hear in an interview with Sally Rooney that she wrote and discarded more scenes then the length of the finish product. She clearly knows how to craft a spellbinding relationship.

Jul 19, 2020

Brilliant and rewarding read without all the cliches of a typical ‘romance’ story. Perfect quarantine read.

Jul 06, 2020

Being adapted for Hulu

Jun 06, 2020

Lauren Craft passed this along to me. Its about two people who's lives intersect. They support one another at difficult times. I enjoyed it very much. It was a COVID-19 read.

May 24, 2020

Highly recommended by John Doyle, The Globe & Mail

May 20, 2020

I couldn’t get past the first chapter due to the lack of quotation marks. It was difficult trying to figure out who was talking at any given time or whether a character was thinking something in their head versus saying it aloud. I never fully appreciated quotation marks until now! The author’s decision to make this stylistic choice was a poor one.

May 14, 2020

I wouldn't usually even pickup up a "relationship" book but I'd heard some buzz. So glad I read it. Marianne and Connell are two brilliant young people trying to figure out how they fit in the world. As they move through high school and college the only constant in their lives is each other--neither one a "normal" person. By the end of the book I think they've grown and seemed to be near the conclusion most of us eventually reach: normality is a myth. Everyone and no one is normal. Brilliant writing with some very memorable passages.

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Add a Quote
Aug 06, 2020

I’m just nervous, he says. I feel like it’s pretty obvious I don’t want you to leave.

In a tiny voice she says: I don’t find it obvious what you want.

Aug 06, 2020

If people appeared to behave pointlessly in grief, it was only because human life was pointless, and this was the truth that grief revealed.

Aug 06, 2020

Cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently. You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.

ArapahoeMaryA Feb 07, 2020

Marianne had a wildness that got into him for a while and made him feel that he was like her, that they had the same unnameable spiritual injury, and that neither of them could ever fit into the world. But he was never damaged like she was. She just made him feel that way.

There’s something frightening about her, some huge emptiness in the pit of her being. It’s like waiting for a lift to arrive and when the doors open nothing is there, just the terrible dark emptiness of the elevator shaft, on and on forever. She’s missing some primal instinct, self-defense or self-preservation, which makes other human beings comprehensible. You lean in expecting resistance, and everything just falls away in front of you.

ArapahoeAnnaL Sep 17, 2019

He makes a facial expression she can't interpret, kind of raising his eyebrows, or frowning. When they get back to his house the windows are all dark and Lorraine is in bed. In Connell's room he and Marianne lie down together whispering. He tells her she's beautiful. pg. 45


Add Age Suitability
Apr 06, 2020

CORI D. MORRIS thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Aug 04, 2019

J_257 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Summary
SPL_HEATHERL Jun 25, 2019

Connell and Marianne attend the same high school in small town, present day
Ireland. On the surface they have nothing in common and probably wouldn't
have crossed paths outside school had it not been for the fact that
Connell's mother cleans house for Marianne's mother and Connell waits at the
house to take his mother home every day. So begins a friendship that is kept
hidden from their school friends because at school Connell is one of the
popular and confident kids, and Marianne is considered an awkward oddity,
having no friends, but really not caring either. Connell is embarrassed to
be seen at school with Marianne and Marianne seems to accept that they
shouldn't acknowledge each other.

Skip ahead a year, and the two are at university in Dublin. Marianne has
found her confidence and is popular and outgoing, while Connell can only
stand looking on from the sidelines uncertain with what to do with his life.
Despite the changes in their circumstances they are each supportive of the
other, and through numerous personal, sometimes destructive relationships,
they always eventually gravitate towards one another.

Normal People could be called a coming of age novel and the central
characters are young people, but it isn't necessarily a young adult novel. I
don't think Rooney is aiming to write for any particular generation because
what Connell and Marianne go through is applicable to most of us whatever
our ages. It's not quite a romance either, but it is a love story. It almost
defies categorization. Ultimately I think it's a novel about integrity and
doing the right thing for the person you love, all the while knowing that
your own life will likely be changed and diminished. It's a novel about pure
love, love that is capable of overcoming everything, including shame and
Nominated for the Booker prize, Sally Rooney's writing is beautiful, and
each new chapter is a snapshot in the lives of two flawed but hopeful young


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