Adding some extra reading to your already mountainous stack of textbooks and study materials is probably the last thing you want to do at the moment. But, going into the final stretch of the semester, here are two novels that you will definitely want to keep in mind for the summer months ahead.
“Normal People” by Sally Rooney
Hailed as the millennial James Joyce, Irish writer Sally Rooney’s second novel follows the relationship of Marianne and Connell as they weave in and out of each other’s lives over the course of their university years and beyond.
At alternating times both tender and resentful towards each other, Rooney navigates the ebb and flow of love and friendship between two people pulled in by the orbit of an attraction they don’t entirely understand.
I adored this novel. Rooney offers readers raw and challenging emotions —something that is heartbreakingly tender while painfully awkward and intense to read. It’s a refreshing take on modern love and about as far away from cliché as you can get.
It’s a phrase that commonly gets tossed around, but I can’t help but describe “Normal People” as a feat. Rooney’s eye for people and her ability to capture the current time are near-flawless.
That being said, this book won’t be for everyone. It’s a novel in which, arguably, not a whole lot happens.
In “Normal People,” Sally Rooney is more interested in the dynamic between two characters, something she crafts more beautifully than in anything I’ve read for quite some time.
“Tin Man” by Sarah Winman
I say this with no hesitation: “Tin Man” is my favorite novel. Ever. I’m going to try my hardest to briefly review it here without raving (too much). Sarah Winman’s third novel is, like “Normal People,” focused primarily on the bond between two characters: Ellis and Michael.
It’s a story of love and loss. Throughout its slim 200 pages, we are granted each of their perspectives on their friendship and brief romance, but also on what happens when a very special third figure enters their lives.
I’ve never encountered a book that could make me tear up simply by thinking of it—and this is a novel I think about nearly every day. It’s some of the most truthful and lovingly-crafted writing I’ve ever read, and it will be a life’s mission of mine to figure out how Sarah Winman managed to fit such an achingly beautiful story into such a narrow space.
It’s a novel that is at times both deeply saddening and positively uplifting. “Tin Man” is a reminder that the people we love and care about and the moments we share with them are, in the end, all that really matter.
Sarah Winman writes beautifully about a multitude of topics: youth, aging, regret, masculinity and the symbols and memories that keep us tied to our loved ones. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this novel. Read it. You won’t regret it.