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Normal People Book Club Questions + Reading Guide

Normal People by Sally Rooney is one of the hottest books for book clubs right now, thanks to the Hulu adaptation of the book! If it’s your turn to host the book club discussion, don’t fear! We’ve got your Normal People book club discussion questions and summary right here!

Normal People Book Summary

Sally Rooney explores friendship and both the power and tenuous nature of human connection in this novel about Marianne and Connell, two teens who’ve grown up in a small town but they’re not friends. Connell is popular and well-liked, and Marianne is a loner who lurks on the edges. When a chance conversation occurs between then, they have no idea that it’s the start of something more.

A year later, both Connell and Marianne are studying at Trinity College, but their roles are reversed: Connell can’t seem to fit in and struggles with money, and Marianne has finally hit her stride. Their friendship endures, even through their separate studies, disappointments, other friends, and new experiences. As Marianne and Connell come of age and grow into the people they’re meant to be, they must also decide how far they’re willing to go for each other.

Normal People Book Club Questions

Discuss how Connell and Marianne form their own sense of self-image. Connell seems very dependent on what other people think at the beginning of the book. How does this contribute to your perception of his character? Marianne is also dependent on other people’s opinions of her, namely her family, who is abusive and unloving. How does this contribute to your perception of her character?

Do you think that Connell takes advantage of Marianne’s feelings toward him in the beginning? How does Connell’s attention make Marianne feel?

Which character did you identify more with? Did you prefer one character over the other?

Do you think Connell really means it the first time he tells Marianne he loves her? What effect does this profession of love have on Marianne?

Why do you think that Connell and Marianne are drawn to each other initially? What is the basis of their attraction later on, when they’re at school?

Discuss the class issues that come into sharper focus once Marianne and Connell go to Trinity. How are Connell and Marianne each perceived? How do they perceive class and status?

Why do you think that Connell is uncomfortable with Marianne’s new circle? Does it have to do with money and privilege, or is there something more to it?

Love is a major theme throughout this novel. Do you think there’s something special about young love, or first love? Is there anything special about Connell and Marianne’s connection? What might that be?

Compare and contract Connell and Marianne’s other relationships with the one that they share. Are their other relationships healthier, unhealthier, or approximately the same?

Do you think that Marianne and Connell’s relationship could have turned out differently if they had been able to communicate better? If they had actually moved in together? Do you think they were ever really “together” despite the lack of labels on their unconventional relationship?

How do Connell and Marianne change throughout the book? How does their relationship evolve?

Do you think it’s a good thing that Connell and Marianne take a break from each other? How did you feel about the ending? 

Discuss the significance of the title Normal People. What makes a person normal, according to each of the characters? According to your own standards? Do you think Marianne and Connell are normal? Why or why not, and by whose standards?

Do you hope that Sally Rooney will write a sequel? Where do you envision Connell and Marianne in five or ten years’ time?

Did you enjoy Normal People? Would you read another novel written by Sally Rooney?

Have you watched the TV show? Do you plan on watching it?


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