Pages: 273 pages
Published: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance
At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.
A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
This reminded me a little bit of Milkman by Anna Burns but not because of the complexity of reading the text, but because of the deeper meaning that was behind the story. This is not your average “coming of age” love story. Rooney actually was able to take a new spin on a genre that has been done a million times and make it different and something that makes the reader thinks. Marianne and Connell are too young people who fall in love but have a hard time being together due to their personal worlds being so different, both economically and emotionally. But Rooney explores these issues with wit, sharpness, sincerity, and acuteness that is a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t hold anything back, especially with her remarks on the literary world.
Rooney also created characters that figuratively lept off the pages. I could feel both Marianne and Connell’s pain when they were together and when they were apart. I particularly loved the examination of depression and mental health, which I wish a lot of books would discuss more. This is not for readers who are looking for a quick, romantic story however, I think they should give this one a try. They will not be disappointed with this one.