Day 6·Should I Read It?

Sally Rooney is being called 'the first great millennial author,' but does Normal People live up to the hype?

Irish writer Sally Rooney has been described by the Guardian as the 'literary phenomenon of the decade.' Her latest novel, Normal People, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, but should you read it? Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne weighs in.

Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne says Rooney's new novel is a 'universally identifiable' love story

Sally Rooney's second novel is Normal People. (Knopf Canada, Jonny L. Davies)
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Sally Rooney's book, Normal People, has been flying off bookstore shelves since its release in the U.K. last summer.

In fact, the novel was in such popular demand that according to the Guardian, booksellers posted signs on their doors declaring whether or not they had the book in stock.

Other booksellers kept stacks of Normal People behind the counter because they were asked about the novel so frequently.

Normal People is the Irish-Canadian author's second novel. It was released just a year after her first, Conversations with Friends, which also received positive reviews when it came out in 2017.

This week, the highly-anticipated novel was released in Canada.

Praise for Sally Rooney

Rooney, 28, is a millennial, and her writing highlights her generation's unique experience of relationships, finances, and class issues, among other things. Last summer, the New York Times called her "the first great millennial author."

But Rooney, who was also long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, seems a bit nonplussed by the reaction to her writing.

Last year, she deleted her Twitter account after tweeting that "novelists are given too much cultural prominence."

Sally Rooney attends the 2019 Costa Book Awards held at Quaglino's on January 29, 2019 in London, England. (Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

The book

Rooney writes about the life she knows, or can relate to.

Normal People is about Marianne and Connell, two high school students who lead very different lives.

Marianne is a wallflower and loner from a wealthy family. Connell is a popular athlete raised by a single mother who happens to clean Marianne's family home.

Despite their differences, Marianne and Connell secretly start a relationship that continues, on and off, after the two move to Dublin to attend Trinity College.

But at the university, the class disparity between the pair becomes more prominent. Marianne thrives, while Connell is suddenly less popular, and finds himself questioning the perceived vapidity of the people with whom Marianne surrounds herself.

Should you read it?

Normal People is undoubtedly popular, but should you read it?

Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne.

"Normal People treads quite a lot of the same ground as Conversations with Friends," said Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne. "But I preferred Normal People because I found the nostalgia in the love story to be more universally identifiable."

Toyne notes the critiques of Conversations with Friends: "It is very much about white, upper middle class, artsy millennials and maybe not everyone can identify with that."

"I liked it very much," said Toyne of Normal People. So that's a big yes to whether or not you should read it.

If you would like to enter to win a copy of Normal People, click on the 'Contact' link and tell us the title of Sally Rooney's first novel.


To hear the full interview with Becky Toyne, download our podcast or click 'Listen' at the top of this page.

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