I bought this one on a whim, having almost enjoyed Sally Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends. But I didn’t start on it until my friend Kaitlyn mentioned this evening that it had been assigned for her book club, and we decided to compare notes.
I came home and began on it right away, and we have now made plans to catch up as soon as possible. Because I had Thoughts. (Edit: So, it turned out, did she.)
These Thoughts were not good thoughts. I actively detest this book. It is just hideous, all about two wounded teens who end up wounding each other, and one of whom then goes on to enjoy wounding, in a hurts-so-good kind of way — except then she hates herself.
My understanding of the S&M world is limited, I have to admit, but I can’t imagine that community would be flattered by the assertion that one is led to embrace that lifestyle due solely to an abusive childhood and some crippling self-doubt.
The relationship between our two lead characters — I will not say protagonists — is toxic and disturbing, as right from the outset, as teenagers, he takes sexual advantage of her neediness and then treats her like dirt. She feels worthless anyway, and he just reinforces it, makes it worse. At University in Dublin, they reconnect, she now the popular one, he now struggling to find his place, but still, she is downtrodden, by her awful friends and him, and good gods, girl, just stop being so whiny.
Normal people they may be, in that we all have our regrets and flaws and we’ve all been terrible to others in the past and have made assumptions and have cared about being cool. But they are also people I hate.
This book is everywhere at the moment, I see people reading in cafes, on trains, in parks. Occasionally, I stop and ask: “Are you enjoying that book?”
Not a single person has yet said yes. Which gives me a renewed faith in humanity, at any rate.
TBR DAY 176: Normal People by Sally Rooney
GENRE: General Fiction
TIME ON THE TBR: 8 months.
PURCHASED FROM: Dymock’s