Book tip: "Normal People" by Sally Rooney
Ah, to be young and neurotic! Actually, that’s not fair; the two main characters in Rooney’s follow-up to “Conversations with Friends” aren’t skin-deep neurotics; they are wounded and have deep-seated issues. Marianne hails from a wealthy but damaged (and damaging) family. She is an outcast at her high school in Ireland and feels an emptiness that she tries to remedy with self-denying, even masochistic behaviors. Connell is popular but doubts himself; he is the son of Marianne’s family’s cleaning lady. Marianne and Connell develop a deep bond, both personal and sexual, and “Normal People” follows them as they break up and reconnect, and again, and again, over several years. Rooney’s prose is not particularly showy, but it slowly, surely draws you in. Her greatest strength is creating characters who feel complicated and real, with dialogue that captures the awkwardness and reticence of youth.
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