When a friend of mine first told me about Normal People, she told me that she missed the characters, Marianne and Connell, after finishing the book. This sentiment caught my attention, because missing the characters of a novel is a rare feeling. And yet, I feel that it completely encapsulates everything about this story. Normal People is a book that I think most people will connect to on some level, because in a way everyone knows exactly what this book is really saying: people can have lasting impacts on our lives.
However, I can also see why this book is polarising. It is definitely a book that someone will either love or hate. Perhaps it is the marmite of books, if I may say so? I can see how some may say that it is not a unique story, or why others may dismiss it because it is about the relationships of people in their late-teens/early twenties. I can see how people may say these things, but I wholeheartedly do not agree.
I read Normal People over a month and a half ago, in mid-February, and yet I am still thinking about it. To me, that says something. It is one of those books that really causes you to reflect on the power of relationships – not just romantic ones, but also friendships and familial relations – and how they can change your life.
This is not a fast-paced novel, so perhaps if you are more used to reading books where a lot happens in quick succession, then Normal People will not be your cup of tea. Or your marmite on toast, to keep with the analogy. It is a study of two people really, and their interactions with each other over a few years. Now, I quite like this type of book, because I love nothing more than connecting with a character. The funny thing about Normal People to me was, and I feel slightly rebellious saying this, I didn’t particularly like either of the characters. Neither character was someone I could see myself being friends with (you know, if they were real) but I was engrossed by their imperfect, fictional lives. I found myself completely captivated by their story – I needed to know what would happen next. I think this is because the relationship between Marianne and Connell felt so realistic. I could feel their pain, their joy, their utter agony as I read each page. This, to me, is what makes an excellent novel.
Please comment below if you have read this book, and let me know what you think!
xx Claudia Nicole