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NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney | Book Club Discussion

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Hi readers, I’m Jess. And I’m Abbe. Thank you so much for joining our August book club when we read Normal People by Sally Rooney. So this book follows two friends, Marianne and Connell. They grow up in a small little town in Ireland and Marianne’s kind of the outcast Connell is way more popular, but they meet and actually become friends. And they become so close that their lives are sort of intertwined. And then they both end up at Trinity in Dublin for college and again their lives intersect and they find themselves inseparable once again. So this book really follows their intricate friendship and romance over, you know four or five years and I absolutely loved these two. I loved this whole book and I can’t wait to discuss it with you guys. Yeah! I’m super excited I really liked this book too
it was the first book by Sally Rooney that I read actually so it was my
introduction to her and I couldn’t put it down it was so good
Marianne and Connells relationship was really interesting to me it really did
feel like a relationship that a lot of us can relate to in many ways so I think
normal people might be a fitting name for the book but the relationship
between them starts off in high school and Marianne like you said is really an
outcast Connell is very popular what did you think of their relationship during
that time when Connell kind of ignored Marianne in public well it’s so
interesting right because they’re from two different classes so Marianne is
uncool but she’s also rich and her mom employs Connells mom as their
housekeeper and clean so the way they need is that Conell
comes to this mansion to think of his mom from her sort of weekly
housecleaning you know times and so that’s how they meet and so they have
this sort of private friendship behind closed doors where the the kids at
school are not privy to their conversations and I think they actually
surprise one another you know he doesn’t know much about her and she sort of
thinks he’s too cool for her but they surprise each other and in sort of their
intelligence and emotions they open up to one another
I like how Connell is kind of like taken aback by Marianne a lot of the times
when she just says these really strange it’s um to him especially at first he’s
kind of like what did she just say but also he’s really into it
and that kind of like sparks the chemistry between them but then at
school Connell does not pay attention to Marianne he really sticks with his
buddies who even actually make fun of her yeah so he doesn’t participate in
actively making fun of her but he also doesn’t stand up for her or say like hey
she’s actually kind of cool so I thought that was really really relatable
actually I have to say like you know part of me wanted him to be braver and
have sort of a thicker skin but we all remember like being in high school where
like it is I’m really hard to go great it’s brutal and you either like stand
with the people who are making fun of someone else or you go up against them
and risk losing your own status which sounds so bad but also that’s just the
way it was and Connell was very scared to lose his status as the cool guy in
high school yeah and he ran with that crowd and he was not about to make waves
especially for for Mary and so I thought that was that was interesting you know
like I wanted him to yeah me better but I’m also like hey man I got it
you can’t hate him for it basically yeah but I actually enjoyed the sort of
poetic justice that happens when they get to college yeah and all of a sudden
Mary Ann is like totally cool and she’s got all these friends and now he feels
like a fish out of water in this university where you know other kids
have money so she sort of fits in with that and you know he hears them all like
all these kids sort of bloviate in class and he’s like oh everyone’s way smarter
than I am even though they’re not they just have this bravado that he did not
necessarily bring to college with him so it was an interesting tournament exactly
yeah yeah Mary Ann really like grew into herself I think totally I I loved her I
I felt myself so much in Mary Ann like I was such a dork and I was not cool in
middle school and in high school and my dad used to say to me he’s like oh just
wait until you’re an adult like it gets better it gets way better
you’ll be like and I feel like all those people who peak in high school that’s
really they all go down now so if you’re not peeking in high school that’s good so yeah she really does come into her
own and feels that almost more comfortable in her skin yes as she gets
older that was one thing that I appreciated throughout the entire book
is that like I could relate to her more so than I could two protagonists that
are just beautiful and gorgeous all the time yeah I felt like Mary Ann was kind
of awkward looking she had crooked teeth and you know sometimes her hair was not
perfect and you know all these different things I was like wow like I can I can
see myself so it was refreshing and and nice and I did also relate to her
you know growing into who she wants to be despite all the hardship that she
faced in high school yeah I’m at home I love you know sort of Connells and
internal monologue like I also actually found myself in his shoes a lot sort of
like the the questioning that we each do about like where do I belong and what do
I want to do and what am I good at do you think he ever really found his place
I think I think he’s beginning to find it as the book ends like when he submits
that story for publication and the editors like this is great we got to
publish us and he sort of freaks out and yeah no no no but he at the end is
accepted to this program in New York and she encourages him to go like I think
she understands that he needed to find his path yeah yeah so one thing that was
interesting that most of you said is that you were confused by the lack of
quotation marks around different characters voices so it was I thought it
was really interesting actually like a good technique that she uses it it took
me a while to get used to it I am not gonna lie I what I would have to reread
certain things to be likely who said this but I did get used to it and I did
come to appreciate it as like her style although I have to say some of the
things they said like their normal conversations were so weird
in what world like I start like I loved it but I was just like this is such
strange conversation that they’re having right now is it at all because they were
Irish do you think or maybe maybe a mix of both I did I did love it but it was
very strange I I was like trying to picture myself
saying some of these things on the day-to-day and I was like what this
would never come out of my mouth but yeah but I did get used to the lack of
quotations that’s something that I I needed a time to adjust you yeah yeah
one thing I thought was so interesting was their relationship and sort of how close and intersected they are I mean I
definitely had a relationship in college that felt a lot like this I also have
one that I can think of right and it’s sort of like you vacillate between being
best friends and romantic partners and then it’s almost indistinguishable yeah
and then it’s so valuable because it’s a friendship that you treasure that’s sort
of wrapped up in the emotions of love and you can’t just break up with someone
like that know you become so close to that person whoever that person is
because they are your best friend and you’ve shared things with them that
you’ve probably never shared with anyone else
I mean Connell and Marianne have these moments of intimacy and Connell
sometimes gets freaked out at how much he tells Marianne and how you know weird
the stuff is that he tells her and he confides in her because he knows she’s
not going to tell anyone else but there’s a special like connection that
they both have yeah and I think that’s a special kind of love even if it’s not
you know boyfriend-girlfriend labled yeah it’s it’s a very special
kind of love what really like got me in the book was when Marianne was like well
I was never his girlfriend so I’m not even his ex-girlfriend so we can’t even
break up and I’m basically nothing and I felt that hard girl I was like how do
you describe these relationships to other people I know you’re not really
dating I know together and certainly Connells mom wonders the same I like
Lorraine yeah I loved her me too she was a very strong character and she told
Connell when he was yeah yeah you know a jerk and I thought it was so interesting
like when they had other relationships with other people yes that I was like
this relationship pales in comparison to you know what you have with each other
but with with Connell and his sort of girlfriend what was her name
Helen Helen it was almost like so bland that that’s exactly what he needed like
he didn’t need the drama that sort of came with the Marianne ups and downs
yeah but to me I’m like a Helen this is
snoozy come on I break up with her get back with Marianne I think sometimes
just the strength of like how strong their relationship was emotionally was
very scary to both of them and maybe that’s why they decided to you know
search elsewhere but I definitely fell it’s like why are you with other people
when you know that you should be with you know each other it was very kind of
hard for me to read because I I was rooting for Marianne and Connell just
because we got to see all sides of their relationship and from both perspectives
yes and I realized how much miscommunication there was it drove me
insane I know when he wants to ask to move in with her to stay in Dublin for
the summer but he thinks that she doesn’t want that and so he doesn’t ask
directly and so he ends up moving home and then she’s like oh he just like
broke up with me basically yes and he’s like I bet you’ll want to see other
people and she hears that as I want to see other people yes I’m like come on
you cheer like get it together say what you mean but and mean what you say and
cut out all this bullshit yes but at the same time which is why this is so like yes but it
was it was cool to see from both sides because you were able to see like oh he
was thinking this the whole time she was thinking this and neither of them
decided to tell each other the truth about how they were feeling it was
driving me crazy it’s like a game of telephone where you’re like yeah that
was not what was that originally yeah so what I want to talk about is how you
know Marianne’s sort of sexual proclivities like she likes to be
dominated and she likes to be submissive with her partner and it gets stronger
throughout the years totally yeah which i think is in direct relation to the
sort of violent upbringing that she had yeah that was really rough to read
basically Marianne’s brother Alan you know was very abusive to her and her
father and her father was and her mother is just not there for Marianne in fact
she’s almost rooting against her and whenever her brother lashes out and does
something absolutely awful her mother will blame her essentially
and it doesn’t matter what Marianne does just she can’t escape it my heart just
like ate for Marianne and so you can sort of see like that’s where she ends
up is sort of needing to be you know almost choked in order to like feel like
she’s being loved yeah so for her like violence and love and
not feeling good enough they’re all tied in together yeah so I was so actually
like glad that sadly Rooney put that in the book because I think it just makes
Marianne such an even more multi-dimensional character yeah
and she even strolled a lot with depression
and eating I she threw out the book she just stopped eating full meals and I
think I thought that was like something that’s really hard to talk about but
also important to put in a book yeah and I really liked Connells struggle
with depression and mental health and seeking help from a counselor as you
know a college-age man I thought that was so valuable to read yeah and not
discussed enough the sort of struggle to ask for help and then to seek help from
a professional yeah and it does you know begin to help him sort of come out of
this fog so at the end I felt so hopeful for these two that almost like yes
Connell might go to New York and they might have separate chapters like
they’ve had before but I do feel like they’re magnetically drawn to one
another like they’re going to get back they have always come back to each other
no matter what has happened so I think it will happen again and I think that
they are each other’s lifelines when things get really bad and they have
nowhere else to go they always wind up back together yeah I thought I thought
it was so interesting that they each called the other in an emergency
situation yes like Connell after he was robbed and he was beaten up calls
Marianne even though they’re not together and they’re sort of actually
like mad at each other at the end of the day he’s like your numbers the only one
I knew by heart yeah and then she calls him after her brother like hits her in
the nose and she’s bleeding and wants to get out of her house they’re not
together at that time either but the only person she knows to call is calm so
at the end of the day like these two I can’t be separated they’re like magnets
they’re soulmates maybe maybe maybe do you think they are normal people do you
think they aren’t I want to know it what you well I think it’s so interesting
that they like they reference this sort of like oh
you know we’re not like normal people because like what is a normal person
there is no such thing and so for me I was so I felt so connected to both of
these characters in different ways that it’s almost like all of their feelings
and depression and love and anxiety and like that it normalized it for me to
feel this way and so you know it’s almost like Sally Rooney’s creating this
new you know section of normal people that are all weird and crazy and nuts
and you know in love and then out of love and mad and glad you know all these
different exactly it was like oh yeah like this is what normal people are so I
think this idea of like Oh normal people doesn’t exist but these two helped me
feel like oh okay everyone feels like the way that I do that yeah yeah yeah
and that’s always really nice to find when you relate to character is so
strongly well I have to recommend that you must read conversation with I know
every honestly everyone has been telling me this
so good I will pick it up I promise yes but actually I have to say of the two
this one I loved just ever so slightly more than conversations with friends
okay good to know yeah so I’m dying to know what you think I will let you know
all know if you if one resonated with you more than the other not to pit them
against each other but well we absolutely love this book
and we’re so glad you’ve read it along with us this August yes we will of
course keep posting some discussion questions in our Facebook group for you
guys to talk about amongst yourselves yes and let us know in the comments of
this video what you thought if you agreed or disagreed we like to hear from
you

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