Normal People by Sally Rooney – A book review

Have you read a book that makes you an emotional fur ball and then climaxes with an open ending? Do you love or hate such a book? Let us talk about Normal People by Sally Rooney, shall we?

Have you read Normal People or anything else written by Sally Rooney? Do you like character driven plots? What other books that handle emotional abuse and depression exceptionally well? Let us talk. Click To Tweet

About the book

Normal People By Sally Rooney Book cover

Book Name: Normal People

Author: Sally Rooney

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Marienne and Alan, and their mother Denise Sheridan , Connel and Lorrainne

Setting: Ireland

The plot

Normal People begins with Marianne and Connell as teenagers who are from different social backgrounds attending the same school. Connell’s mother works in Marianne’s mansion. Connell is kind of the popular jock at school while Marianne is ostracized and is rather invisible.

They begin a sexual relationship but later puts an end to it, because Connell doesn’t want his friends to know about it. When they enter University, their roles reverse. Now Marianne’s intelligence and wit wins her friends while Connell feels so out of it and gradually slips into depression.

Their on/off romance continues and they lean on each other time and again, whatever their romantic entanglements were then. Did they end up with each other forms the rest of Normal People by Sally Rooney.

My initial thoughts

As I was saying earlier, Normal People made an emotional wreck of me. I rarely get affected so much by a book that I had to stop take catch a few breathes while I am reading. This book did that to me.

The plot as such is not anything that we have not read earlier nor very intriguing. But it is the writing and characters that made me come back for more, repeatedly. The protagonists felt so real that made me reach out to an old time friend, just to ask if they were doing fine. We all were normal people, once.

Flawed characters that are deep and emotionally broken? Sign me up. Her penchant towards self destruction and his gradual slipping into depression hurt me viscerally.

The only issue I had was not being able to understand why Marienne’s family hated her so much or some kind of background about it. Every time she felt unworthy and mistook abuse as love based on her family, especially the men, my heart broke.

I loved the social commentary parts in the book as much as inner thoughts of the characters.

What worked for me

  • CHARACTERS. Such deep, flawed and real characters.
  • I love plot-less plots, if you get what I mean. Character and angst driven plots are the best and Rooney did a great job at that.
  • This might be a make or break thing, but for me, the open ending seemed like a perfect finish to Normal People.

What may have been better

  • I wanted to know more about Marienne’s family and their treatment towards her. How and why would they?
  • Some readers may have an issue with the style of Rooney’s writing. Trust me you will get used to it in a bit.

Bottom line

If you are interested to read a character driven plot that will affect you emotionally, Normal People should be your pick. Normal People by Sally Rooney deserves all the praise and accolades it has been getting. I am definitely reading more from Rooney in future.

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Let’s chat

Have you read Normal People or anything else written by Sally Rooney? Do you like character driven plots? What other books that handle emotional abuse and depression exceptionally well? Let us talk.


  1. Robin Loves Reading

    Not at all sure I would enjoy the book.

    • Gayathri

      Oh oops, I hope you find something you love soon.

  2. Megan | Bookstacks & Golden Moms

    ooh, I have wanted to read this one since I heard about it! Emotional wreckers are okay with me 🙂 Great review, as always!

    • Gayathri

      Yes I am sure you will love this one.

    • Gayathri

      Oh this is a standalone book.

    • Gayathri


  3. Kate @ Bitch Bookshelf

    This one has been on my TBR and I would love to read it before I watch the adaptation.

    • Gayathri

      Yes that is why I read it as soon as I got it too!

  4. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I think I would have liked Normal People more if the writing style wasn’t so frustrating for me. The dialogue was sometimes confusing, and I guess I never got used to it.

    The issues and themes were good, though, so I liked the Hulu miniseries more.

    Thanks for sharing a great review.

    • Gayathri

      Oh yeah I have heard that it didn’t work for a few people.

  5. Jinjer

    The only thing I picked up on about the abuse was, I think there was a quick mention that Marianne’s father abused bother her and her mother? So I guess the son was just carrying on with what he learned from his dad.

    • Gayathri

      Yes, that makes sense. Good catch.

  6. Maureen @ Maureen's Books

    Love your review! I’m glad to read you enjoyed this one so much. And yes.. books that make me emotional are definitely the best since I really get swept away by them.

    • Gayathri

      Thank you.

  7. Darina

    Great review! I had issues with this book, one of them being the lack of background to Marianne’s family as you rightly pointed out. Glad to see that you enjoyed it though!

    • Gayathri

      Oh.. Did it affect your overall reading experience, though?



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Gayathri has been reviewing books since 2010. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she works as a writer and a digital marketer. Head over to meet me!