BOOK REVIEW: NORMAL PEOPLE by SALLY ROONEY

normal people

Normal People is a novel that moved me. It’s a book that could’ve so easily veered into the grandiose, but instead asserted a quiet kind of significance, a reclamation of the momentousness of the everyday. Its story hinges on two central characters—Connell and Marianne—their thoughts, their flaws, their conversations, their relationship(s). On the surface, the story’s plot isn’t much: two people living their lives, coming together and drifting apart. But what draws you into this story is not the structural but the personal. Rooney’s characters are so tenderly drawn, so well-realized. Their conversations feel authentic, filled with pockets of humour and hints of vulnerability and the undercurrent of things unsaid. More than anything, though, the novel’s moments ring true. They are not disembodied Deep Literary Moments, but individual, particular, personal moments—not about meaning as a distant concept, but about meaning as a lived experience.

Like I said, this book moved me. I finished it crying but not knowing why, only feeling that I’d read something that struck me as remarkably honest.

(Thank you to Penguin Random House/Knopf Canada for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley!)


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ARC REVIEW: RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by CASEY MCQUISTON

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

CUTE 

I really, really enjoyed this. I was in the mood for something quick and cute and Red, White & Royal Blue delivered exactly that. First and foremost, McQuiston’s biggest strength here is her dialogue. Her characters’ conversations are organic, genuine, and funny. I also appreciated the representation in this book. Alex is biracial—half-white, half-Mexican—and bisexual, Henry is gay, Nora is a lesbian, and there’s also a lot of discussion of what it’s like to be queer and/or a person of colour in politics. Oh and also, the romance was cute as hell. Thought I’d mention that since, y’know, this is a romance book, lol. ANYWAY, I really enjoyed this. It only gets 3.5 stars just because I found that the plot elements started to drag down the story bit, especially with all the stuff about the election.

(Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley!)

3.5-


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ARC REVIEW: A LADDER TO THE SKY by JOHN BOYNE

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I tried not to have high expectations for this, I really did. I absolutely ADORED Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, so naturally I was eagerly looking forward to whatever he would release next. But try as I might to moderate my expectations for this novel, A Ladder to the Sky still disappointed me. By and large, my biggest problem with this novel is that–and this is gonna sound harsh–its story felt like nothing special. The main character was a horrible person, sure, but not in a particularly interesting or compelling way. The plot was very linear and predictable; once you establish what kind of character Maurice is, nothing he does comes as a shock. The other POV characters of the story didn’t interest me in the least; they seemed like a means to an end as far as Maurice’s story was concerned. And then on top of all of that the ending was just underwhelming, a that’s it? kind of ending.


This book is definitely not gonna deter me from reading Boyne’s other books, but on its own it was just not a standout book for me.

(Thank you to Crown Publishing/Hogarth for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley!)

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