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If you’re looking for a modern audiobook that delves into the complexities of relationships and the challenges of navigating life in today’s society, look no further than Sally Rooney’s “Normal People.”

With its deep exploration of love, identity, and coming-of-age experiences, this novel has captured the attention of readers around the world and established Sally Rooney as a rising star in the literary world.

In this comprehensive review, we will delve into the plot, characters, writing style, and themes explored in “Normal People,” as well as highlight the critical acclaim it has received. We will also discuss the impact of the novel on Rooney’s career and provide reader recommendations and discussion points for book clubs interested in exploring this powerful work.

The Plot of “Normal People”

In “Normal People,” Sally Rooney tells the story of Connell and Marianne, two young people from the west of Ireland. The novel opens during their school years, where Marianne is an outcast from her affluent family, while Connell, although popular, is ashamed of his working-class mother. Despite their differences, the two develop a secret relationship, which they keep hidden from their classmates.

As they transition to university, their roles reverse, with Marianne thriving in her academic pursuits and Connell struggling to fit in. Despite their new lives, the two have an unbreakable connection, and their relationship evolves through various stages, each marked by challenges and misunderstandings.

Throughout the novel, Rooney explores themes of love, friendship, and identity, creating a poignant commentary on modern relationships. With her sharp prose and perceptive characterizations, “Normal People” is a beautifully written and compelling read that leaves a lasting impact.

The Characters in “Normal People”

In Sally Rooney’s “Normal People,” the characters are the heart of the story. Rooney masterfully crafts complex and nuanced characters that feel like real people. The two main characters, Marianne and Connell, are in many ways opposites, but their lives are intertwined in a way that is both fascinating and heartbreaking.

Marianne is an interesting and deeply layered character. From the outside, she appears to be cold, aloof, and unfriendly. However, as the story unfolds, we see that her past traumas have shaped her into someone who struggles with self-worth and forming healthy relationships. Despite her prickly exterior, Marianne is a deeply empathetic person who cares deeply about those around her.

Connell, on the other hand, is more of a people-pleaser. He is popular in high school and is well-liked by everyone, but deep down, he struggles with feelings of insecurity and anxiety. Throughout the story, we see him grapple with his own feelings and desires, trying to balance what he wants with what is expected of him.

As they navigate their relationship with each other, we see how their complex web of emotions and past experiences affect their interactions. The characters in “Normal People” are what make the story so captivating, and readers are sure to be invested in their journey.

The Supporting Cast

In addition to Marianne and Connell, “Normal People” has a rich cast of supporting characters that help to flesh out the story. From Connell’s supportive mother to Marianne’s abusive brother, each character is well-written and adds depth to the narrative.

Name Description
Lorraine Connell’s mother and a key influence in his life. She is supportive of Connell throughout the story and encourages him to pursue his dreams.
Jamie Marianne’s brother, who is abusive towards her. His presence in Marianne’s life adds tension and conflict throughout the story.
Peggy Marianne’s friend in college. Peggy is fiercely intelligent and provides a refreshing contrast to Marianne’s more reserved personality.
Joanna A friend of Connell’s in college. Joanna is confident and outgoing and provides a contrast to Connell’s more reserved nature.

The supporting cast in “Normal People” may be secondary characters, but they are no less important to the story. Each one contributes to the themes and narrative in unique ways, making “Normal People” a multi-layered and intricately woven tale.

The Writing Style of “Normal People”

Sally Rooney’s prose style in “Normal People” is distinct and unique, elevating the novel beyond a simple coming-of-age story. Her writing is characterized by its sparse yet evocative descriptions, and its portrayal of complex emotional states with a sparse yet cutting precision.

Rooney’s writing is also notable for its use of unconventional narrative techniques; “Normal People” makes use of a stream-of-consciousness technique that allows readers to follow the thoughts of its main characters in real-time, lending an intimacy and immediacy to their inner lives.

Ultimately, the quality of Rooney’s writing elevates “Normal People” into a work of literary significance, exploring the complexities of human relationships in a modern, nuanced way.

Impact on Reading Experience

The unique style in “Normal People” adds layers of complexity to the story, encouraging readers to engage with the characters and their experiences on a deeper level.

The impact of Rooney’s writing style on the audiobook further heightens this experience. The actors providing reading the audiobook deliver an emotionally charged performance which helps significantly in visualizing the characters and their experiences. Readers who prefer the audiobook format will be able to appreciate Rooney’s writing in a new way, through the expert interpretation of talented voice actors.

Writing Style of Sally Rooney

Examples of Writing Style in “Normal People”

Example Description
“Connell has the sense that she’s building something inside herself, or doing something, operating at a level only she can see. He doesn’t know what’s driving her but he admires it.” A descriptive and intimate passage that conveys the protagonist’s appreciation for the enigmatic nature of his love interest’s passion.
“Lorraine can’t really tell what Connell is feeling, but he has the look of someone who’s being told something he’s long suspected, and hoped was true, but is now forced to confront in all its miserable reality.” A terse yet evocative description of a moment of realization for one of the story’s characters.
“He wants to take out his phone and text her, tell her she’s made an error, there is still time for her to choose him.” Rooney’s prose often utilizes very simple language to convey complex emotional states, as in this example.

Themes Explored in “Normal People”

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney tackles various themes that are relevant to young adults, including love, identity, and the challenges of coming-of-age.

The novel explores the evolution of Marianne and Connell’s relationship, demonstrating how love can be complex and dynamic. Through intimate conversations and emotional interactions, the story depicts how love can evolve and change over time.

Identity is another significant theme in “Normal People.” Marianne and Connell’s uncertain identities and their search for a sense of self are evident throughout the novel. As they navigate through adolescence and early adulthood, they struggle to understand their true selves, which ultimately compels them to redefine their identities.

Coming-of-age is also explored in “Normal People.” The novel depicts the complex and challenging journey that many young adults face as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Marianne and Connell’s experiences highlight the difficulties and obstacles that come with this process.

The themes explored in “Normal People” are interwoven, creating a rich and multifaceted story that resonates with readers. Through these themes, Rooney offers a poignant commentary on the complexities of modern love and the challenges of growing up.

Themes in “Normal People”

Themes in “Normal People” Description
Love The novel explores the complexities of modern love and how it can evolve over time
Identity Marianne and Connell’s search for their true selves and the challenges they face as they navigate through adolescence and early adulthood
Coming-of-age The story highlights the difficulties and obstacles many young adults encounter as they transition from adolescence to adulthood

The Audiobook Narration of “Normal People”

The audiobook narration of “Normal People” is a standout feature of this compelling novel. Those who chose to experience the story through audio will benefit from the excellent narration, which enhances the storytelling in numerous ways. The narration style adopted by the voice actors is clear, engaging, and perfectly suited to the tone of the novel.

The voice actors for “Normal People” bring the characters to life through their performances. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal narrate the female and male protagonist, respectively, with skill and sensitivity. They capture the intricacies of the characters’ emotions, enhancing the overall impact of the story.

The audiobook version of “Normal People” is an excellent option for those who prefer to immerse themselves in the story through audio. The talented voice actors and expert narration style make for an unforgettable listening experience.

Reception and Critical Acclaim

The audiobook version of “Normal People” has received overwhelming praise, earning critical acclaim from both readers and literary critics alike. It has been praised for its captivation of the modern love story, its memorable characters, and its stunning prose.

The novel has received numerous literary awards, including the 2018 Costa Novel Award, the 2019 Irish Book Award for Novel of the Year, and the 2019 British Book Award for Book of the Year. “Normal People” was also longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Top critics have also praised the novel, with The New Yorker referring to it as “a future classic,” and The Guardian stating that it is “a work of incredible depth and beauty.”

Reception of Normal People


Publication Positive Review
The New York Times “With “Normal People”, Sally Rooney has written a novel of rare confidence and maturity.”
The Washington Post “Rooney is such a gifted, gutsy writer […] She’s the real deal.”
The Guardian “Rooney’s writing is precise, understated, and often quietly beautiful […] A novel about the meaning of life and the meaning of damaged people finding each other.”

Comparisons with Rooney’s Other Works

In our discussion of “Normal People,” it’s impossible to ignore comparing it to Sally Rooney’s other works. While “Normal People” may be Rooney’s second novel, it has quickly cemented her reputation as a gifted writer with a distinctive voice that captivates readers.

Comparing “Normal People” to Rooney’s debut novel, “Conversations with Friends,” reveals striking similarities and differences in their themes and writing style. Both novels explore the complexities of relationships and personal identity, but “Normal People” presents a more refined and mature style. While “Conversations with Friends” showcases Rooney’s talent for creating vivid characters, “Normal People” takes this to a new level, drawing readers further into the lives of its two protagonists.

Another of Rooney’s works that bears comparison with “Normal People” is her short story collection, “Mr Salary.” Although much shorter, “Mr Salary” similarly explores the intimate relationships between its central characters and touches on themes of identity, self-discovery, and emotional vulnerability.

It’s clear that Sally Rooney has a distinctive writing style that creates an immediate connection with her readers. While each of her works stand on their own, there are certainly similarities and connections between them that reflect Rooney’s own inner world and experiences.

Impact and Cultural Relevance of “Normal People”

The impact of the novel Normal People by Sally Rooney cannot be understated. Not only has it become a beloved bestseller, but it has also sparked intense social commentary and cultural significance.

Perhaps one reason for its cultural relevance lies in its examination of modern love and relationships. Set in Ireland and following the lives of Marianne and Connell, the novel captures the complexities of human connection in the digital age.

Furthermore, Rooney’s exploration of class, power dynamics, and mental health has generated important conversations surrounding these issues. Her unflinching portrayal of trauma, consent, and gender dynamics is both honest and necessary, contributing to larger discussions of social justice and progress.

The Impact on Young Readers

Notably, Normal People has had a profound effect on young readers, particularly college students. Its commentary on identity, self-discovery, and the navigation of adult relationships resonates deeply with this demographic.

A recent study conducted by the University of Notre Dame found that the novel has contributed to increasing empathy among college students, a testament to the power of literature in fostering social awareness and understanding.

The Future of Sally Rooney

As for the author herself, Normal People has solidified her place as a leading voice in contemporary literature. Her unapologetic honesty, poignant style, and willingness to tackle difficult subjects have garnered widespread acclaim and garnered a dedicated fanbase.

Fans eagerly anticipate her future projects, which are sure to continue exploring the complexities of love, identity, and social commentary that make Normal People such a groundbreaking work.

Exploring the Adaptation

The television adaptation of “Normal People” was highly anticipated by fans of the novel. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room) and Hettie Macdonald (Howard’s End), the 12-episode series premiered on Hulu and BBC Three in April 2020, captivating audiences with its raw and intimate portrayal of Marianne and Connell’s relationship.

Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as the lead characters, the TV series deftly captures the nuances and complexities of Sally Rooney’s novel while introducing subtle differences in the plot and pacing.

The adaptation has been widely praised by both critics and audiences, with many highlighting the exceptional performances of the lead actors and the series’ ability to convey the emotional depth of the story. The show has been nominated for numerous awards, including four Primetime Emmy Awards, ultimately winning two, for outstanding directing and casting in a limited series.

The success of the adaptation can be attributed to its willingness to remain faithful to the source material while also taking creative liberties to enhance the viewing experience. For instance, the TV series expands on certain scenes while cutting others, providing a fresh perspective on the evolving relationship between Marianne and Connell.

In conclusion, the “Normal People” TV series is a triumph, successfully bringing Sally Rooney’s novel to life while also standing on its own as a work of art. It is a must-watch for fans of the book and newcomers alike, showcasing the power of adaptation to breathe new life into beloved stories.

Reader Recommendations

If you’re looking to enhance your experience with “Normal People,” we’ve compiled a list of reader recommendations, discussion points, and book club suggestions:

  • Explore the intricacies of Marianne and Connell’s relationship and analyze the impact of their backgrounds on their dynamic.
  • Discuss the themes of identity, love, and class in the novel and how they relate to modern society.
  • Consider Sally Rooney’s writing style and how it influences the storytelling and character development.
  • Compare “Normal People” to Rooney’s previous work, “Conversations with Friends,” and analyze any similarities or differences.
  • Recommend “Normal People” to fans of contemporary literature, especially those interested in stories about relationships, identity, and coming-of-age.

For book clubs looking to delve deeper, consider selecting a similar novel, such as “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides or “Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney.

Enhance your reading experience with these reader recommendations and discussion points.

Influences and Inspirations

Sally Rooney’s writing is known for its compelling and nuanced portrayal of modern relationships and society, but what were the influences behind her critically acclaimed novel, “Normal People”? In this section, we will explore some of the literary inspirations, references, and events that may have shaped Rooney’s writing and the world of “Normal People.”

Throughout the novel, Rooney references other works of literature and art, adding layers of meaning for attentive readers. One prominent example is the poem “In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz” by William Butler Yeats, which is referenced several times throughout the book. The quote “the light of evening, Lissadell” also appears in the novel, which is a reference to another Yeats poem titled “The Wanderings of Oisin.”

Rooney has also spoken about her admiration for other contemporary writers, including Elena Ferrante and Doris Lessing, and how their works have influenced her approach to writing. The themes of identity and relationships present in “Normal People” can also be found in Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend” series.

Finally, Rooney’s own experiences growing up in Ireland and attending Trinity College Dublin have likely played a role in shaping the world of “Normal People,” which is set in Ireland and features characters who attend Trinity as well. Rooney’s exploration of class and societal norms in the novel may also reflect her personal experiences growing up in a society with deeply ingrained social hierarchies.

Overall, the influences and inspirations behind “Normal People” are varied and complex, contributing to the richness and depth of the novel’s themes and characters.

Impact on the Author’s Career

After the success of “Normal People,” Sally Rooney became a household name in the literary world. The novel’s popularity propelled Rooney’s career to new heights, and it was not long before her works began to receive critical acclaim and commercial success.

Normal People was a bestseller in multiple countries and won several awards, including the Costa Novel Award and the Irish Novel of the Year. It also received positive reviews from critics, further cementing Rooney’s reputation as a talented writer.

Rooney’s future projects have been highly anticipated, and many readers are eager to see what she will release next. She recently published her third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, in September 2021. The novel has garnered significant attention in the literary community, and readers eagerly await its audiobook release.

Sally Rooney’s Writing Journey

Book Release Year Genre Awards
Conversations with Friends 2017 Literary Fiction Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize
Normal People 2018 Literary Fiction Winner of the Costa Novel Award, Irish Novel of the Year, and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Beautiful World, Where Are You 2021 Literary Fiction N/A (as of writing)

Rooney’s success is a testament to her talent as a writer, and her contributions to contemporary literature will undoubtedly continue to inspire and captivate readers.


After a thorough analysis of Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” audiobook, it’s safe to say that this modern novel is a must-read for anyone who enjoys complex characters, intricate relationships, and thought-provoking themes. We highly recommend it as an excellent addition to your reading list.

The audiobook narration does an impressive job of bringing the story to life, adding nuanced performances by the voice actors. If you’re into audiobooks, this one is a must-listen.

In conclusion, “Normal People” is a captivating novel that delves deep into the complexities of love, relationships, and coming-of-age. Its cultural relevance and critical acclaim further solidify its place as a modern classic.


What is “Normal People” by Sally Rooney?

“Normal People” is a captivating audiobook by Sally Rooney that explores the complexities of love and life in a modern setting.

What is the plot of “Normal People”?

“Normal People” follows the intertwined lives of two characters, Marianne and Connell, as they navigate their way through love, friendship, and the challenges of adulthood.

Who are the main characters in “Normal People”?

The main characters in “Normal People” are Marianne and Connell. Their complicated relationship serves as the core of the story.

How would you describe the writing style of “Normal People”?

Sally Rooney’s writing style in “Normal People” is distinct and impactful, employing prose and narrative techniques that beautifully capture the nuances of human emotions and relationships.

What are some of the themes explored in “Normal People”?

“Normal People” explores themes of love, identity, and the challenges faced during the transition into adulthood.

How is the audiobook narration of “Normal People”?

The audiobook of “Normal People” features excellent narration, with voice actors skillfully bringing the characters and story to life, enhancing the overall listening experience.

How has “Normal People” been received by readers and critics?

“Normal People” has received significant critical acclaim, with praise for its compelling storytelling, well-drawn characters, and exploration of contemporary themes. It has also generated widespread reader appreciation and sparked meaningful discussions.

How does “Normal People” compare to Sally Rooney’s other novels?

As Sally Rooney’s second novel, “Normal People” shares similarities in themes and writing style with her previous work. However, it stands on its own as a unique and compelling story.

What kind of impact has “Normal People” had on readers and society?

“Normal People” has made a significant impact, resonating with readers and sparking conversations about love, relationships, and the challenges of modern life. It has become a cultural touchstone and has contributed to ongoing social commentary.

How does the television adaptation of “Normal People” compare to the novel?

The television adaptation of “Normal People” successfully captures the essence of the novel, while also bringing its own visual interpretation to the story. There may be some differences between the two mediums, but both are highly acclaimed.

Are there any reader recommendations for “Normal People”?

Readers have recommended “Normal People” for its compelling characters, thought-provoking themes, and its potential to spark meaningful discussions in book clubs or group readings.

What were the influences and inspirations behind “Normal People”?

Sally Rooney’s writing is influenced by various factors, including her own experiences and observations of contemporary relationships. “Normal People” may contain literary references or draw inspiration from certain events or works.

How has “Normal People” impacted Sally Rooney’s writing career?

“Normal People” has been a pivotal work in Sally Rooney’s career, catapulting her to international acclaim and establishing her as a prominent voice in contemporary literature. It has opened doors for future projects and further success.

What are your final thoughts and recommendation for the “Normal People” audiobook?

We highly recommend the “Normal People” audiobook for its compelling storytelling, exceptional narration, and thought-provoking exploration of love and life. It is a must-listen for fans of Sally Rooney and modern novels.

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