Girl Well Read
Published book reviewer, blogger of books & book lifestyle products, wine drinker and polka dot lover. I’d love to review your book next! Follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@girlwellread), Pintrest, Litsy, Goodreads, LibraryThing, BookLikes, and ReadFeed (Girl Well Read).
A special thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada/Knopf Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A coming-of-age love story of classmates Connell and Marianne. He's a the popular star of the football team and she is the mysterious loner. Connell's mother works for Marianne's family and the two begin a complicated and secret relationship that starts when Connell comes to Marianne's house to pick his mother up from work.
Fast-forward a year and they are both students at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has come out of her shell and flourishes socially while it is Connell that is struggling to fit in. Throughout their time at university, they ebb and flow in each other's lives, always drawn back together. As Marianne starts a downward spiral into self-destruction, Connell and Marianne must face just how far they are willing to go to save each other.
Rooney explores the complexity of relationships, the obsessive and possessive elements of first love, what class and social standing really means, and the entanglement of families and friendships. She nails the disconnect that many teens experience with the real world and also with how self-absorbed they are while trying to find their place in the world.
What I found exhausting about the book on a whole was how stereotypical the characters were. The women wanted attention and to be loved, all the while not realizing their worth. The male characters were lacking in morals. Just like the jock character in a teen movie, they are 'boys being boys' and this is perfectly acceptable (cue eye roll). She also pens some vile characters that blur the lines with things like bullying and neglect that aren't fully explored, instead they simply vanish.
The writing was poignant and stirring; this book had so much potential but I couldn't see beyond what I mentioned above.