Normal People by Sally Rooney tells the story of Connell and Marianne, two teenagers in their final year of secondary school from the small town of Carricklea, Ireland. The novel starts with Connell arriving to pick up his mother Lorraine from Marianne’s house, where Lorraine works as a cleaner. 

As Connell and Marianne talk, Connell thinks he behaves differently when he is alone with her because he knows she will not tell other people in school what they talk about. At school, Marianne is an outcast with no friends, and she and Connell do not interact. Marianne tells Connell that he is the only person who talks to her and that she likes him. Connell does not know how to react and leaves without looking Marianne in the eye.

Connell starts coming by Marianne’s place to pick his mother up for work more often. He and Marianne have similar opinions and share book recommendations. Connell asks Marianne whether she meant she liked him as just a friend, and she says she did not. Connell is worried about what people at school would think if he and Marianne became romantically involved, but Marianne suggests they could keep their relationship a secret. Marianne is planning to go to Trinity College in Dublin, and Connell has applied for Law in Galway, where most of his friends from school are going. Marianne convinces him to apply to study English in Dublin, and he agrees. 

One day, Marianne goes to a nightclub, whe...

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