Review: ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney

Welcome back for another series review 🙂

I’ve been hearing so much hype about this book, and the series that came out a few months ago. During lockdown, everyone seemed to be reading this book- and Sally Rooney’s works have been held up as modern classics.

Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of Rooney’s books. I read and reviewed ‘Conversations with Friends‘ earlier in the year, and I thought it was okay- a little underwhelming. I couldn’t finish ‘Normal People’ and so I decided to give the series a go to see if it was more captivating.

‘Normal People’ is about two teenagers, Marianne and Connell, who go to the same school but live completely different lives. Connell is part of the popular crowd, and while he is brooding and quiet in private, he has a school persona as the popular kid to keep up.

Marianne is quiet and lonely at school, constantly taunted by Connell’s friends. Marianne is more well-off than Connell, and his mum, Lorraine, spends her afternoons cleaning for Marianne and her family.

Connell and Marianne from the series 'Normal People' laugh on the beach.
Picture credits here

Despite their differences, Connell and Marianne start a tentative relationship, sleeping with each other in secret and enjoying each other’s company. But at school, Connell still ignores Marianne, and his friends continue to bully her. Eventually, their differences take their toll on the “couple”, and they separate before starting University.

When Connell starts at University, he bumps into Marianne again and they begin to explore their relationship, deciding whether they should just be friends or try to reach for something more.

Marianne and Connell’s relationship experiences constant ups and downs, and the series is all about following as their relationship grows, changes, and develops- with lots of obstacles along the way.

Connell and Marianne from the series 'Normal People' stand in their uniform and their heads meet.
Picture credits here

I wasn’t a huge fan of this series. In my opinion, it presented a very unhealthy view of relationships and love. I’ve heard a lot of reviews suggest that it represents “modern love” but if this is what modern love is like, it’s definitely like nothing I’ve witnessed! Their relationship never seems particularly enjoyable, and neither of them seem very happy.

I also didn’t really like either of the characters, and both of them always seemed to be sad and brooding. I’m glad I gave the series a go as there were some lovely romantic, touching scenes, and it’s always interesting to understand the hype- and form your own opinion! It’s clear that Sally Rooney can write brilliant romances that a lot of people can relate to- just not me.

Marianne from the series 'Normal People' stares into the camera with tears in her eyes.
Picture credits here

Overall, I enjoyed ‘Normal People’ as a series about young people trying to understand love, loss, and their relationship. However, I thought it was quite underwhelming, and the pace was so slow. I couldn’t gel with either of the main characters, and Marianne especially annoyed me quite a bit.

I’m not too sure why ‘Normal People’ has caused so much excitement here in the UK, but I know my opinions are not the norm so maybe it just caught me at a time when I wasn’t really feeling it!

What do you think of my review of ‘Normal People’? What’s your opinion on Sally Rooney’s novels? Would you consider giving this book or series a go?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Happy reading x

31 thoughts

  1. I have very similar views on the book and after finishing it I didn’t feel particularly inspired to watch the series. Too many aspects of their relationship stood out negatively for me and I agree with you about the slow pace. Thank you for sharing your honest opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always so interesting to read and hear the opposite views when it comes to TV shows/films and books so, despite being a fan of both the book and TV series of Normal People, I really enjoyed reading about your opinions on it! I haven’t read Conversations With Friends yet but it’s next on my list of books to read. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Normal People has definitely been the talk of the town. I haven’t read the book but I did start watching the show. It started off okay, I did enjoy seeing the transition of the characters from high school to uni. And you’re right, they didn’t seem happy in their relationship and the show is so slow. I kinda knew how it’s gonna end so I have yet to finish the series. I’m not sure whether it’s worth finishing it 😦


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Finally, someone share the same opinions as me about this book😂🙏🏽I couldn’t finish this book and found the series to be quite slow but everyone around me seemed to love the book. I still do not understand the hype.

    I really enjoyed reading this review💕 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read the book a while ago and so was thrilled at the announcement of the series. Got to say, I loved both, but I think you’re right about Connell and Marianne. Both were difficult to like at times, like they just needed putting back in their bag and given a good shake!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I agree that some elements were definitely enjoyable- just maybe not my cup of tea 🙂 Yes that’s so true- I often find that “will they-won’t they” situations can become so frustrating haha!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting, I watched the series to see whether the chatter it attracted was warranted, whereas usually I would read the book first (TV and film often fail to capture the original work accurately in my experience), but I found the series to be a bit overblown, Aspects of the on/off relationship were curious and the dysfunctional nature of Marianne’s family was especially odd. But, perhaps that is the point. The story underlines that there are many variants of ‘normal’. Still, I was intending to backtrack to the book. Having seen the comments here, maybe not! In any event, I doubt we’ve heard the last of Connell and Marianne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, there were some interesting aspects such as Marianne’s relationships with Connell/her family 🙂 I think if you’re wanting to understand the characters and storyline more, perhaps the book would be a good suit for you- don’t let the comments put you off!


  7. this actually sounds really interesting! I haven’t heard of this book so maybe it was just popular in the UK and not in America. But either way I definitely want to check it out! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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