Normal People follows Connell and Marianne. He is the popular high school jock (except he's also really smart and incredibly likeable as well as being good at sport). She is a loner who no one really knows and who has a painful history that stops her from getting close to people. Despite their differences, a close bond forms between these two, and as the book progresses it is a bond that keeps them coming back to each other. The book follows them as they graduate from high school and go to Trinity College, and their lives beyond school, but always, the focus is on these two characters.
This is an intense read. It is impossible to put down. Rooney creates two characters that you will care about within the first five pages, and you will continue to care for the remaining 250 pages. This book is a wonderful study of friendship and of love. It discusses abuse, from others and the type we inflict on ourselves. It focuses on power, how we gain it and hold it over others. It features pain, physical, emotional, sexual. This book is one that delivers an emotional punch.
And it is beautiful from the moment it starts until it ends.
Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2018, and is currently longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction. It is deserving of every nomination. It deserves to be on your bookshelf.