What It’s About
Basically, it follows two people - Connell and Marianne through their last year of high school and into several years at college. In high school, Connell is very popular, but his family is very poor and Marianne is a social outcast and is very rich. Later in the story they find themselves switching roles and Marianne becomes the popular one where Connell finds himself having a hard time fitting in.
Connell and Marianne get together in high school and then continue to have an on again off again relationship spanning several years.
I wish that I could say it's about more than that, but that's basically the gist. I didn't really find it to have much of a plot.
What I Thought
So, this is another on the list of books that I found to be just OK. It came very highly recommended by some friends, but as they explained to me what it was about, it didn't sound like I would actually like it so instead I started watching the TV show first to get a feel for it. I only made it through two or three episodes before I took the book off my TBR list.
In the show, they sleep together and Connell goes on and on about liking her and then completely acts as though she doesn't exist in public which was just so infuriating. In the end, I found it dull and a bit disgusting and not for me. But! I had put a hold on the book at the library before this whole debacle and when it got to me, I didn't have a current book on my Ereader (I always have one book going on my Kobo for when I'm up with baby in the night) so I tried it out anyways. After reading it, I can absolutely see what the show did and I actually think that they did a really good job at portraying what Sally Rooney wrote in the book. The characters were perfectly cast and the tone was just so on point. Maybe now that I understand that more, the show might be more interesting to me?
Honestly, I liked the story overall and I really liked Rooney's writing. It flowed really well and at first I thought that the lack of quotation marks indicating dialogue would confuse or annoy me but it didn't, if anything it added beautifully to the tone of the story she was telling. I love romance in books (which is funny because my husband would attest that I am less than romantic in life) so that didn't turn me off at all, what did was the age old "will they or wont they". These two characters are perfect for each other and they love each other, but they act so nonchalant towards one another. It was ridiculous. I spent the entire book wanting to scream. "Why are you wasting so much time! Just f-ing be together!"
I have heard people describe Sally Rooney as the voice of this generation and that scares me just a little bit because I found every character except for Connell's mom to be a bit of an idiot. But, I think can confidently say that we all live in generations where we don't always say exactly how we feel and we almost always care too much about what others think and that is basically what this book is about. These two people work so hard to "fit in" with their surroundings that they end up sacrificing their happiness and though they fit in, they never truly belong. - And as we know from Brene Brown, fitting in and belonging are not the same things.
I really wish that I could say that I loved it or hated it. I would much rather prefer to have some kind of passion behind my reviews. Overall I found it to be a bit dull, but everyone I know who has read it loved it, so I am totally on the other end of the spectrum.
Have you read it? What did you think? What about her other novel, Conversations With Friends?