Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
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). <br> <br> ONE OF THE TEN BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE-- Entertainment Weekly<br> <br> TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR-- People, Slate, The New York Public Library, Harvard Crimson<br> <br> 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 <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> Praise for Normal People <br> <br> "[A] novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting." -- The Washington Post <br> <br> "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 <br> <br> "[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
The unconventional secret childhood bond between popular Connell and lonely, intensely private Marianne is tested by character reversals in their first year at a Dublin college that render Connell introspective and Marianne social, but self-destructive.
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<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">January 2011 Marianne answers the door when Connell rings the bell. She's still wearing her school uniform, but she's taken off the sweater, so it's just the blouse and skirt, and she has no shoes on, only tights. Oh, hey, he says. Come on in. She turns and walks down the hall. He follows her, closing the door behind him. Down a few steps in the kitchen, his mother Lorraine is peeling off a pair of rubber gloves. Marianne hops onto the countertop and picks up an open jar of chocolate spread, in which she has left a teaspoon. Marianne was telling me you got your mock results today, Lorraine says. We got English back, he says. They come back separately. Do you want to head on? Lorraine folds the rubber gloves up neatly and replaces them below the sink. Then she starts unclipping her hair. To Connell this seems like something she could accomplish in the car. And I hear you did very well, she says. He was top of the class, says Marianne. Right, Connell says. Marianne did pretty good too. Can we go? Lorraine pauses in the untying of her apron. I didn't realize we were in a rush, she says. He puts his hands in his pockets and suppresses an irritable sigh, but suppresses it with an audible intake of breath, so that it still sounds like a sigh. I just have to pop up and take a load out of the dryer, says Lorraine. And then we'll be off. Okay? He says nothing, merely hanging his head while Lorraine leaves the room. Do you want some of this? Marianne says. She's holding out the jar of chocolate spread. He presses his hands down slightly further into his pockets, as if trying to store his entire body in his pockets all at once. No, thanks, he says. Did you get your French results today? Yesterday. He puts his back against the fridge and watches her lick the spoon. In school he and Marianne affect not to know each other. People know that Marianne lives in the white mansion with the driveway and that Connell's mother is a cleaner, but no one knows of the special relationship between these facts. I got an A1, he says. What did you get in German? An A1, she says. Are you bragging? You're going to get six hundred, are you? She shrugs. You probably will, she says. Well, you're smarter than me. Don't feel bad. I'm smarter than everyone. Marianne is grinning now. She exercises an open contempt for people in school. She has no friends and spends her lunchtimes alone reading novels. A lot of people really hate her. Her father died when she was thirteen and Connell has heard she has a mental illness now or something. It's true she is the smartest person in school. He dreads being left alone with her like this, but he also finds himself fantasizing about things he could say to impress her. You're not top of the class in English, he points out. She licks her teeth, unconcerned. Maybe you should give me grinds, Connell, she says. He feels his ears get hot. She's probably just being glib and not suggestive, but if she is being suggestive it's only to degrade him by association, since she is considered an object of disgust. She wears ugly thick-soled flat shoes and doesn't put makeup on her face. People have said she doesn't shave her legs or anything. Connell once heard that she spilled chocolate ice cream on herself in the school lunchroom, and she went to the girls' bathrooms and took her blouse off to wash it in the sink. That's a popular story about her, everyone has heard it. If she wanted, she could make a big show of saying hello to Connell in school. See you this afternoon, she could say, in front of everyone. Undoubtedly it would put him in an awkward position, which is the kind of thing she usually seems to enjoy. But she has never done it. What were you talking to Miss Neary about today? says Marianne. Oh. Nothing. I don't know. Exams. Marianne twists the spoon around inside the jar. Does she fancy you or something? Marianne says. Connell watches her moving the spoon. His ears still feel very hot. Why do you say that? he says. God, you're not having an affair with her, are you? Obviously not. Do you think it's funny joking about that? Sorry, says Marianne. She has a focused expression, like she's looking through his eyes into the back of his head. You're right, it's not funny, she says. I'm sorry. He nods, looks around the room for a bit, digs the toe of his shoe into a groove between the tiles. Sometimes I feel like she does act kind of weird around me, he says. But I wouldn't say that to people or anything. Even in class I think she's very flirtatious toward you. Do you really think that? Marianne nods. He rubs at his neck. Miss Neary teaches Economics. His supposed feelings for her are widely discussed in school. Some people are even saying that he tried to add her on Facebook, which he didn't and would never do. Actually he doesn't do or say anything to her, he just sits there quietly while she does and says things to him. She keeps him back after class sometimes to talk about his life direction, and once she actually touched the knot of his school tie. He can't tell people about the way she acts because they'll think he's trying to brag about it. In class he feels too embarrassed and annoyed to concentrate on the lesson, he just sits there staring at the textbook until the bar graphs start to blur. People are always going on at me that I fancy her or whatever, he says. But I actually don't, at all. I mean, you don't think I'm playing into it when she acts like that, do you? Not that I've seen. He wipes his palms down on his school shirt unthinkingly. Everyone is so convinced of his attraction to Miss Neary that sometimes he starts to doubt his own instincts about it. What if, at some level above or below his own perception, he does actually desire her? He doesn't even really know what desire is supposed to feel like. Any time he has had sex in real life, he has found it so stressful as to be largely unpleasant, leading him to suspect that there's something wrong with him, that he's unable to be intimate with women, that he's somehow developmentally impaired. He lies there afterward and thinks: I hated that so much that I feel sick. Is that just the way he is? Is the nausea he feels when Miss Neary leans over his desk actually his way of experiencing a sexual thrill? How would he know? I could go to Mr. Lyons for you if you want, says Marianne. I won't say you told me anything, I'll just say I noticed it myself. Jesus, no. Definitely not. Don't say anything about it to anyone, okay? Okay, all right. He looks at her to confirm she's being serious, and then nods. It's not your fault she acts like that with you, says Marianne. You're not doing anything wrong. Quietly he says: Why does everyone else think I fancy her, then? Maybe because you blush a lot when she talks to you. But you know, you blush at everything, you just have that complexion. He gives a short, unhappy laugh. Thanks, he says. Well, you do. Yeah, I'm aware. You're blushing now actually, says Marianne. He closes his eyes, pushes his tongue against the roof of his mouth. He can hear Marianne laughing. Why do you have to be so harsh on people? he says. I'm not being harsh. I don't care if you're blushing, I won't tell anyone. Just because you won't tell people doesn't mean you can say whatever you want. Okay, she says. Sorry. He turns and looks out the window at the garden. Really the garden is more like "grounds." It includes a tennis court and a large stone statue in the shape of a woman. He looks out at the "grounds" and moves his face close to the cool breath of the glass. When people tell that story about Marianne washing her blouse in the sink, they act like it's just funny, but Connell thinks the real purpose of the story is something else. Marianne has never been with anyone in school, no one has ever seen her undressed, no one even knows if she likes boys or girls, she won't tell anyone. People resent that about her, and Connell thinks that's why they tell the story, as a way of gawking at something they're not allowed to see. I don't want to get into a fight with you, she says. Excerpted from Normal People by Sally Rooney All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Kirkus Book Review
A young Irish couple gets together, splits up, gets together, splits upsorry, can't tell you how it ends!Irish writer Rooney has made a trans-Atlantic splash since publishing her first novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. Her second has already won the Costa Novel Award, among other honors, since it was published in Ireland and Britain last year. In outline it's a simple story, but Rooney tells it with bravura intelligence, wit, and delicacy. Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan are classmates in the small Irish town of Carricklea, where his mother works for her family as a cleaner. It's 2011, after the financial crisis, which hovers around the edges of the book like a ghost. Connell is popular in school, good at soccer, and nice; Marianne is strange and friendless. They're the smartest kids in their class, and they forge an intimacy when Connell picks his mother up from Marianne's house. Soon they're having sex, but Connell doesn't want anyone to know and Marianne doesn't mind; either she really doesn't care, or it's all she thinks she deserves. Or both. Though one time when she's forced into a social situation with some of their classmates, she briefly fantasizes about what would happen if she revealed their connection: "How much terrifying and bewildering status would accrue to her in this one moment, how destabilising it would be, how destructive." When they both move to Dublin for Trinity College, their positions are swapped: Marianne now seems electric and in-demand while Connell feels adrift in this unfamiliar environment. Rooney's genius lies in her ability to track her characters' subtle shifts in power, both within themselves and in relation to each other, and the ways they do and don't know each other; they both feel most like themselves when they're together, but they still have disastrous failures of communication. "Sorry about last night," Marianne says to Connell in February 2012. Then Rooney elaborates: "She tries to pronounce this in a way that communicates several things: apology, painful embarrassment, some additional pained embarrassment that serves to ironise and dilute the painful kind, a sense that she knows she will be forgiven or is already, a desire not to 'make a big deal.' " Then: "Forget about it, he says." Rooney precisely articulates everything that's going on below the surface; there's humor and insight here as well as the pleasure of getting to know two prickly, complicated people as they try to figure out who they are and who they want to become.Absolutely enthralling. Read it. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
New York Times Book Review
FURIOUS HOURS: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep. (Knopf, $26.95.) Cep's remarkable first book is really two: a gripping investigation of a rural Alabama preacher who murdered five family members for the insurance in the 1970s, and a sensitive portrait of the novelist Harper Lee, who tried and failed to write her own book about the case. LOT: Stories, by Bryan Washington. (Riverhead, $25.) This audacious debut collection, set in the sand- and oil- and drug- and poverty- and resentment-soaked landscape of Houston, is a profound exploration of cultural and physical borders. SEA PEOPLE: The Puzzle of Polynesia, by Christina Thompson. (Harper/HarperCollins, $29.99.) Mystery has long attended the inhabitants of the Pacific's far-flung islands: Where did they come from, when did they get there, and how? Thompson explores these questions, with a particular focus on the early Polynesians' incredible navigational skills. WHEN BROOKLYN WAS QUEER, by Hugh Ryan. (St. Martin's, $29.99.) This boisterous history captures the variety and creativity of the sexual outsiders who congregated around the economic hub of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a flourishing center of gay life from the middle of the 19 th century until well into the 20 th. THE GLOBAL AGE: Europe 1950-2017, by Ian Kershaw. (Viking, $40.) In a time of uncertainty and harsh political division, Kershaw's book is a valuable reminder that Europe's recent history was a period of enormous accomplishment, both politically and economically, achieved against obstacles that make many of today's troubles seem minor by comparison. THE PARISIAN, by Isabella Hammad. (Grove, $27.) This strikingly accomplished first novel, set in the early 20th century and modeled in part on the life of the author's grandfather, captures the fate of a European-educated Arab, a man divided, like his native Palestine. NORMAL PEOPLE, by Sally Rooney. (Hogarth, $26.) Rooney dramatizes with excruciating insight the entwined lives of a high school couple as they mature into college students, bringing to light how her contemporaries think and act in private, and showing us ourselves in their predicaments. RABBITS FOR FOOD, by Binnie Kirshenbaum. (Soho, $26.) After a New Year's breakdown, the heroine of this furious comic novel checks into a Manhattan mental hospital and starts taking notes. OPTIC NERVE, by Maria Gainza. Translated by Thomas Bunstead. (Catapult, $25.) In this delightful autofiction - the first book by Gainza, an Argentine art critic, to appear in English - a woman delivers pithy assessments of world-class painters along with glimpses of her life, braiding the two into an illuminating whole. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books