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Normal People

By: Sally Rooney

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Imprint: Hogarth

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9781984822178

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Electronic | Audiobook Download

On Sale: | Pages: 288

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • “A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships” (People) from Sally Rooney, the author of Conversations with Friends and “a master of the literary page-turner” (J. Courtney Sullivan).   COMING TO HULU IN 2020 • “Fresh and accessible . . . There is so much to say about Rooney’s fiction—in my experience, when people who’ve read her meet they tend to peel off into corners to talk.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times   At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her 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 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. 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.   Praise for Normal People   “I went into a tunnel with this book and didn’t want to come out. Absolutely engrossing and surprisingly heartbreaking with more depth, subtlety, and insight than any one novel deserves.”—Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter   “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, “12 Best Books of Spring” “[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
Any reader who thought that, after “Conversations With Friends,” Ms. Rooney wouldn't have more to say about vulnerable young adults navigating the rough terrain of love and relationships will be pleased to discover than her psychological acuity is every bit as sharp in this new novel.... If some secondary characters skirt the edges of stereotype — Marianne's abusive brother, Alan, is particularly one-dimensional — the novel is still an uncommonly acute portrait of the unease that questions of class, sex and social acceptance, especially among young people, can engender.
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Normal People,” even as it is almost physically impossible to stop reading once begun, feels in some ways like the slightly less impressive follow-up album by a beloved band, the “Contra” to Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut, if you will.... It's wonderful to hear the sound of Rooney's voice on the page again, and the pleasures of her storytelling are even more immediate than in the first novel. But the book can also seem rushed and conventional in ways her debut did not, particularly in its final third.... But that urgency is also thrilling, and there are very few contemporary writers who can pull off what Rooney accomplishes with narrative and character in this book.... As a writer she is adept, on the level of both plot and subject matter, at deferring the reckoning until just the right moment. As one of her many dedicated readers, I'm eager to see what her characters do once they emerge fully into the world, but I'm also happy to wait. She's got time.
—New York Times
NORMAL PEOPLE, the second novel by Irish writer Sally Rooney, is fantastic: honest and interesting, emotionally astute and entertaining.... The honesty found in NORMAL PEOPLE is almost confrontational, which is wonderful. It is an old-fashioned literary romance stripped of anything saccharine or overly poetic. This is a book to savor and devour, full of the often overlooked wisdom of youth and intelligence of passion.
Connell suffers a depression that Rooney captures in its limp and deadened hopelessness. But it is Marianne's suffering at the hands of her violent and unloving family that proves the real red meat of the book.... With intelligence and heat, Rooney reveals the myth of normal people: There's no such thing. She shows us how strange we are, how isolated, how confused, how alone with our wounds and pain, and how it's this that joins us, makes us normal. And what a rare, beautiful thing to find someone who can, even just for moments, make us feel safe in our strangeness, and less alone.
—Boston Globe
Using clear language, dialogue is rendered to express deadpan self-consciousness, revealing Marianne and Connell's insecurities and evasions. Rooney's ability to dive deep into the minute details of her characters' emotional lives while maintaining the cool detached exterior of the Instagram age reflects our current preoccupation with appearance over vulnerability. Here, youth, love and cowardice are unavoidably intertwined, distilled into a novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting.
—Washington Post
Every line of “Normal People” is written in the service of character, even the most quotidian details.... If there's a complaint to be made, it's that such relentlessly purposeful writing can feel like affectation. Mostly, though, it's bracingly assured.... Fortunately, there's nothing at all intellectually unserious about getting swept away by “Normal People.”
—USA Today
Sally Rooney's first novel, “Conversations With Friends” (2017), was a canny exploration of female friendship and ego set within a ménage à quatre in post-crash Ireland. “Normal People,” her equally witty and sure-footed second novel, is a sort of “conversations with friends with benefits.” But what starts off as wry and bright turns into a complex, sometimes bleak, coming-of-age story.... “Normal People” manages to feel utterly up-to-date and a throwback to a more distant time.... Ms. Rooney gets it all. She understands messy emotions — another way of saying that she understands the particular, peculiar shape of love and longing. Readers may have a difficult time remembering the last time they felt so invested in a novel's characters.
—Wall Street Journal
Rooney sharpens her focus — and in turn heightens the intensity — by placing only two characters in the spotlight and showing how their love is tested by outside forces and inner conflicts.... “Normal People” is a coming-of-age tale, a campus novel, a psychological drama and a study of class and power. Above all, however, it is a love story. Any initial doubts of it amounting to nothing more than a lightweight teenage romance are swiftly dispelled. Rooney's account of an on-off relationship spread over the course of four years is imbued with emotional depth, wit and perspicacity. In spare, pellucid prose, she wondrously conveys passion and compassion, rawness and tenderness, erotic highs and tragic lows.... F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed that there are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice. Rooney's lovers challenge this. Her whole novel subverts assumptions and exceeds expectations. It is a masterpiece, pure and simple.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Sally Rooney's sentences are droll, nimble and matter-of-fact. There's nothing particularly special about them, except for the way she throws them. She's like one of those elite magicians who can make a playing card pierce the rind of a watermelon.... Rooney's new one is a lot like her old one; her books glide along similar tracks and can bleed together in your mind. Both are about intense but furtive love affairs that are thwarted by misunderstanding after misunderstanding.... Rooney is almost comically talented at keeping the lovers in her novels frustrated and apart. When you are deep into “Normal People,” you may start to feel that she has gone to this particular well one too many times. This novel proves her to be mortal in other ways. Some of the plotting feels heavy-handed and expedient. Her characters cry perhaps more often than you will cry over them. This story can tip over into melodrama. But, then, what is young love without that?... She's an original writer who, you sense, is just getting started.
—New York Times
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