My favourite book of 2019 (so far) was released in Canada and the US today. I wonder if you’ll feel the way I did when I read it:
I’m only 75 pages in but I get it now why people are so into this book and they can’t keep it in stock in the UK. I fucking love it so much I don’t want to anything else but read it every single day. pic.twitter.com/3NrrmWfnNC— Elaine L. (@LaineyGossip) February 16, 2019
I have since read Sally Rooney’s Normal People three times. When I gave my copy to Duana, I warned her, I told her not to read it unless she could clear the rest of her day. Of course she didn’t listen and decided to start it on a busy morning with meetings and obligations she couldn’t put off and then texted me to bitch about the meetings and obligations she couldn’t put off. You can imagine how satisfied I was to be in the “I told you so” position for a change.
This is a book that is more than what you think it is. It’s a story about two teenagers and their secret relationship. It’s also a story about what we ask for in our relationships, and how those relationships change, or don’t change, when we start to examine what we want out of them. It’s a meditation on modern friendship and not just for millennials (although that description, “millennial novel”, has been assigned to it, as if millennial connection can’t reveal universal truths about the bonds we all forge and break and repair) but for so many of us who are out here creating and building identities while at the same time trying to maintain them within the larger framework of the communities, digital and immediate, we are a part of, or striving to be a part of - not ignoring that love in any form, romantic, unromantic, and all points in between, is shaped by class and privilege and power. Sally Rooney does all of this in just one book of reasonable length – and it feels easy. That is, Normal People isn’t a slog. This is a book you want to rip through, even though there are so many ideas to unpack, so many observations made about the complicated ways we hide from each other while revealing ourselves to each other, so much truth about why we hide from ourselves.
And this is why Sally Rooney has become a literary superstar, the novelist everyone is talking about. Like I’ve said already, I f-cking love this book so much I wish I could go back and change the past, resisting the urge to read it that night back in February, so that I can read it tonight for the first time instead, and then repeat the process over and over again. Few things are exciting as meeting a great book. If you haven’t read Normal People yet, I’m so excited for you. And ’ll be excited after for when you read her other book, Conversations With Friends.
Yours in gossip,