Beach reads: ‘Normal People’ is the love story to start your summer


Sierra Hoeger recommends reading “Normal People” by Sally Rooney to kick off your summer.

Sierra Hoeger

Editor’s note: Every other week, writer Sierra Hoeger will be recommending and reviewing her summer beach read books. Keep an eye out for more upcoming beach reads reviews. 

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney is a love story filled with misunderstandings, first loves and the will-they, won’t-they battle. 

The two main characters in the book, Marianne and Connell, couldn’t be more opposite. We are introduced to them when they’re seniors in high school, Marianne, the quiet rich girl, and Connell, the popular jock who belongs to a lower socioeconomic class. 

Connell’s mom cleans Marianne’s family’s mansion. Meeting at her house while waiting for his mom to finish one day, they realize a secret attraction the pair didn’t know they had. Wanting to get intimate without others knowing, Connell and Marianne keep their “relationship” a secret to their classmates and family members. 

Rooney has an interesting way of writing. The characters are so clearly and obviously meant to be together, but then that’d be it. The end. No love story is perfect and this one is no exception. 

While the story doesn’t take place within the 21st century, it seems as though the teenage way of relationships hasn’t changed. Connell and Marianne never put labels on their relationship, making it unclear throughout the book what they are or where their relationship stands. 

After one of their more heated intimate hangouts, conversations travel to the topic of college, where the two will be headed in the near future. They end up attending the same college, where the roles they fell into in high school are reversed. 

After a misunderstanding with the year-end dance in high school, Marianne and Connell are strangers the remainder of the summer. 

Marianne is now the outgoing, friendly and always down to socialize one, while Connell is having a hard time adjusting to college life and only goes out when guilted into doing so. Throughout their entire college careers, their friendship and intimate relationship will follow this pattern.

Someone gets a partner, they’re indifferent to the fact. Then they’re both single and yearning for a connection with each other. This back and forth throughout the entire novel makes you want to keep reading — just to see if they’ll ever make their relationship official — or if they’ll end up with other people. 

I couldn’t help but wonder if the title “Normal People” was related to how relationships are formed and sustained today. It’s very easy to dance around the idea of a relationship, hesitant to assign labels or confirm its status. 

It’s very normal nowadays to not be considered “official” or add any labels to a relationship. 

Rooney writes a novel that while reading it, I had pictured instances within my own life where situations had happened that were similar to the ones she had written. 

Rooney’s style of writing is different from any other novel I had read before. She provides very to-the-point sentences, yet they’re still descriptive and give you the details you need to understand the story. 

While it’s the style of book that I’m typically drawn to, the style of writing Rooney has was hard for me to get used to. Eventually, you’re hooked within the plot and want to finish in one sitting. 

Final Verdict: 8/10