Author: Sally Rooney
I know this book has been out there for a while now, I mean it already has a BBC series adaptation, but I still wanted to give it a read before I watched the series.
If I am being completely honest, it took me a while to made up my mind about this one. It is harder to read a book that already has been out for a while and that seems to have an amazing amount of positive reviews, it creates a set of expectations in your mind and you are prepared to be amazed, not knowing exactly how but you are hopefully turning pages to fulfill your expectations.
The novel is centered around two main characters: Marianne and Connell. It tells the journey they both share which started in school, where they were complete opposites. Marianne, a wealthy girl that finds herself as an outcast from the other students and constantly bullied; Connell, on the other hand, comes from a working-class family but he is very popular. They meet as his mother works as a cleaner for her family.
They soon start to have a sexual relationship that is kept a secret from everyone else for Connell’s benefit as he is too concerned about what it will do to his reputation. From there, they moved to Dublin for college, but this time the roles are different, Marianne finds herself as a popular girl and Connell is struggling with loneliness. The dynamic between then shows co-dependency, depression, miscommunication and it quickly becomes heartbreaking.
Personally, I liked the story. I think it is a very good merit to the author that even though the two main characters seemed to be deeply disturbed and with a lot of emotional issues I didn’t stop caring for them. However, it was frustrating as the book progressed to keep seeing that they behaviors didn’t seem to change or evolve at all, displaying the same issues all along the story, but I guess that what happens in real life where it is hard to change your whole self to be better.
It is a very real criticism of social needs, how we work towards impressing everybody else and we are often too concern about other’s opinions. Connell and Marianne’s behaviors are often a result of family dysfunctionality, social expectations and pure pressure from their friends, which they seem can’t handle very well. I think, to some extent, a lot of people can relate to making decisions influenced by what other people might think of doing something they don’t feel entirely comfortable with, but they do it for peer pressure.
Towards the end the book gets a bit repetitive, but the message stays the same, I think it is a worthy read and if you haven’t yet, please give this one a try!