The appeal of this book comes from the well developed characters. We follow a couple throughout the years, starting from when they are in high school. They fall in and out of love and in and out of friendship several times over many years and we go along with them as they grow and change over time. This book has no compelling plot to speak of so if that is important to you, this won't be a good choice. But if character development is your thing, you should put this on hold right now. The characters are so fully formed and flawed and realistic and you will be pulling for them until the end. This is a great book for the right type of reader.
A few flashes of glorious observation, but the flattened tone and the wilfully non-aesthetic approach left me confused.
The young Irish writer Sally Rooney follows up her celebrated debut novel, "Conversations with Friends," with a story of Connell and Marianne, two millennials who meet in high school, go to college together in Dublin, and have a tumultuous on and off relationship. It's a deceptively simple story and perhaps self-consciously echoes the marriage plot of so many 19th century novels. I think criticisms of the protagonists "likability" or "narcissism" are entirely beside the point. They are complex, difficult people who struggle against the expectations of "normal people." As with "Conversations," Rooney's psychological understanding and insights are impressive. With only two novel, Rooney has become one of my favorite novelists, and I'll read anything she writes.
Sorry, folks, I didn’t like the book and I didn’t force myself to finish it. I couldn’t engage with the book at all. If the book is aimed at teenagers, it should be marked as such. It’s also weirdly written - sentences are short and abrupt, hence it reeds like a telegram. And yes, it’s boring. Alas, I didn’t enjoy neither the writing style nor the characters.
The prose is excellent, but readers looking for wide sweeping character arcs or redemption will be disappointed by the book's end.
I had a very hard time finishing this book even though it was only 273 pages. It was so boring. I kept pushing myself to finish it because the reviews were good. Should have given up at page 50.
I can understand why this book wouldn't appeal to everyone but I enjoyed reading it. The two main characters, Connell and Marianne, aren't necessarily likable but they do come across as real. I could relate to both of them as they were struggling with growing up and trying to figure out life. I could relate to Connell in being depressed and feeling like my life was going nowhere during college. And I related with Marianne in feeling the need to please other people in relationships even if the end result was unhealthy for me. If I was younger and still in those same situations I might not like this as much but now that I'm older it's an interesting book to read and relate to.
While some of the writing is beautiful in this book, I found neither of the main characters at all likeable. If this is the new "millennial" take on the world, it makes me unbearably sad as it is entirely narcissistic. Any referral to issues of social importance made by the characters is to show off their supposed brilliance, not to define how they are working to make changes. Not a inspiring commentary on the young people of today who will soon run our world.
Skimm / NYT April 2019
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