Normal People

A Novel
Narrated by: Aoife McMahon
Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4,976 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Now an Emmy-nominated a Hulu original series • New York Times best seller

"A stunning novel about the transformative power of relationships" (People) from the author of Conversations with Friends, "a master of the literary page-turner" (J. Courtney Sullivan).

One of the 10 best novels of the decade - Entertainment Weekly

Ten best books of the year - People, Slate, the New York Public Library, Harvard Crimson

Best books of the year - The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Vogue, Esquire, Glamour, Elle, Marie Claire, Vox, The Paris Review, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country  

Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation - awkward but electrifying - something life changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship, and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.

Praise for Normal People

"[A] novel that demands to be read compulsively, in one sitting." (The Washington Post)

"Arguably the buzziest novel of the season, Sally Rooney’s elegant sophomore effort...is a worthy successor to Conversations with Friends. Here, again, she unflinchingly explores class dynamics and young love with wit and nuance." (The Wall Street Journal)

"[Rooney] has been hailed as the first great millennial novelist for her stories of love and late capitalism.... [She writes] some of the best dialogue I’ve read." (The New Yorker)

©2019 Sally Rooney (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator] Aoife McMahon, a skillful actor with a gorgeous Irish accent, makes each personality idiosyncratic and believable, and perfectly captures their confusion at being young and emotionally innocent, and trying to be decent but with no idea how to manage it. Rooney's subtle writing and engrossing plot work with McMahon's nimble and witty performance to balance your sympathies on a knife edge between these unforgettable characters." (AudioFile Magazine)

“I’m transfixed by the way Rooney works, and I’m hardly the only one...like any confident couturier, she’s slicing the free flow of words into the perfect shape.... She writes about tricky commonplace things (text messages, sex) with a familiarity no one else has.” (The Paris Review

"This superb book more than lives up to the high expectations set for it by Rooney's lauded first novel.... Showcasing Rooney's focus and ability in building character relationships that are as subtle and infinite as real-life ones, and her perceptive portrayal of class, Normal People gets at the hard work of becoming a person and the near impossibility of knowing if a first love is a true one." (Booklist)  

"I went into a tunnel with this book and didn’t want to come out. Absolutely engrossing and surprisingly heart-breaking with more depth, subtlety, and insight than any one novel deserves. Young love is a subject of much scorn, but Rooney understands the cataclysmic effects our youth has on the people we become. She has restored not only love’s dignity, but also its significance." (Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter)  

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What listeners say about Normal People

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Redundant to the nth degree

Clinically depressed, co-dependant, zero self-esteem; proof that you can have everything and it mean nothing. I only kept reading because I thought surely this change. It didn't. Sad on all fronts.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Meh

I was able to slog through to the end, but it wasn't worth it. The beginning pulled me in, but as the characters changed in college, I thought the story became disjointed and skittish. The turn to masochism came out of nowhere, though Marianne's empty soul is described by Connell. In seeing what I thought of this book, I realize that the characters are memorable but I can't say there's a story.

15 people found this helpful

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Characters never evolve

I was so bummed this book turned out to be the same scenario for these two horribly wounded characters chapter after chapter. It's tough to find that you don't like ANY of the characters in a story. Didn't enjoy this one.

39 people found this helpful

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Somehow missed that this included abuse

I thought this was going to be a very different story. The abuse seemed confusing, like it was just thrown in to make the main character seem pathetic. Did not like.

22 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Don't get the hype!

The story is all over the place in terms of time and relationship between the two main characters. I finished it, partly in hope that it would get better at some point...it didn't. Just a sad depressing story about two lost people and their not so normal lives.

30 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Difficult, but Worth It

I was on the fence about this book. I am so glad I gave it a chance. I can't stop thinking about it.I read the reviews, which kept mentioning that the plot was depressing and triggering. However, I realized its only 7 hours long, which, with the work I do, is only a few days of listening, so I decided to give it a go anyway, thinking there could be something to it because of all the good reviews and its place on "best of" lists.

I understand why it's a decisive book. I don't think its fair to say this book is awful just because it doesn't make you feel happy or good. There are parts of this book where I was deeply uncomfortable but it felt important to get through it. There were parts where I was on the edge of my seat and other parts where it was almost like being in an emotional fog. As readers, I do not think we can judge a book as good or bad based on if we like it, if it's satisfying, or if it explains everything. If you want that, go watch a feel good movie. This is a book, it's a hard book, its upsetting at times, and transcendent at times. And then in the end, you are kind of left there to figure out what it all means. I think the end of this book tells us more about who we are as readers than anything about the plot. The plot almost doesn't matter. This book is more of a feeling.

Other thoughts:
-Great narration. Could be a bit slow so at times I sped it up to 1.25x, which was better for me.
-If you're interested in non traditional gender dynamics or social and economic politics, you'll be into this
-Incredible dialogue and writing
-can be triggering at times. The scene with the photographer made me feel physically sick but I think it was a turning point for one of the characters
-I can't believe how connell, who hardly speaks, is such an incredibly complex character and one of the more emotionally deep characters i've read. I can't believe he's not an actual person. Props to sally rooney.

I can't stop thinking about this book. It really stays with you, like you've witnessed something incredibly intimate. Read it, and if you hate it, return it. I really recommend it if you want some good literature at the cost of an emotional, draining, and difficult rollercoaster.

(this is the longest review i've ever written on audible! i blame the book! )

8 people found this helpful

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Dreary as a winter day in Ireland

two damaged people struggling to keep it together. Depressing. Irish brogue doesn’t help either. Use your credits elsewhere

25 people found this helpful

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Did I read the same book as the cited reviewers?

If you are the type of person who delights in purposely gross explorations of the most disgusting human functions you might enjoy this book. For everyone else, I'd recommend avoiding it like a plague.

Characters:
Who are all these people? I don't know whether the characters were intended to be perceived as normal or a representation of some pathological distortions masquerading as or trying to be normal, but to me they were unrecognizable as people. We first see them as supposedly smart high school students, but both at that age and later they have the self-awareness and social awareness of an amoeba. And that pretty much sums up all the characters in the book, including parents and friends. The single mother of the male protagonist has some awareness of social norms, but apparently not enough to communicate it, or anything else, to her offspring.

This is a character-driven narrative, there isn't much in a way of plot to speak of. So, with this Mütter Museum of personalities on display here, there isn't much else to look at or for...

The narrator was great, although the heavy accent did get a bit much, almost caricature-like for some characters.

22 people found this helpful

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Really...

Kinda random... the ending? You think one thing and when it ends you thnk something else is supposed to happen. I had to rewind to see if I missed something but no, Iistened to the same random ending with no logical ending. I am missing a chapter?

19 people found this helpful

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Pointless

I’m sure I missed something insightful about these characters or their story because I found it all incredibly boring and pointless. Good narration.

21 people found this helpful