Through her beautiful writing, Sally Rooney shows us both at the same time, the lightness of being and how troublesome nad awkward life is. Her style is light, it just flows, making the whole novel look as if that was the only possible way for all the events to play out, for the characters to feel and to do. She made this novel into a whole universe, a whole closed universe that just lives on its own. A universe that could very easily be our own.
The uninteruppted flow is very strongly visible in the dialogues. There are no quotation marks. The whole novel just naturally rolls and is one whole with all its characters, descriptions and dialogues.
The main characters, „normal people“ are damaged and delicate individuals, both firmly believing that they are just the opposite, not normal and very different from everybody else. Such beautifully written characters, so lifelike, so very alive, so intricate.
„Connell wished he knew how other people conducted their private lives, so that he could copy from example.“
Rooney’s writing is filled with beautiful descriptions given in such an unusual way, they, as everything other in this novel, just fluxes naturally describing the most unusual details that most of people/writers would not ordinairily notice at all.
„After his shower he dresses in the only presentable clothes he has left: a plain white T-shirt and blue jeans he has had since he was at school. His hair is wet. He feels clearheaded, an effect of the coffee, and the high water pressure in the shower, and the cool cotton on his skin. He hangs the damp towel over his shoulders and opens the window. Cherries hang on the dark-green trees like earrings.“
The chapters are dated in time and they follow chronologically, but what is interesting, within the chapter itself time goes forwards and backwards. We listen to two different stories about different events that happened, on the surface unrelated, but in reality very connected to each other. One event caused the other or at least influenced it.
As well, we see the same events seen from different perspectives, from Connell’s and from Marinanne’s perspective, that are, every time, completely different.
And by saying this we come understand what this novel is really about, comminication, relationships, emotions between people and how immensly difficult they are. Everything, or at least something, could have been different if people talked more, had more conversations because assuming you know what somebody thinks is almost always wrong. Every person has a history, a pre-story that happened before our story together started and every person has a way of thinking that is different than anybody else’s. Misunderstandings are mostly what happens when we think conversations are happening.
„life is the thing you bring with you inside your own head.“
There are always family, emotional and financial backgrounds that make it for us, and Marianne and Connell, difficult to understand each other and communicate in such a way that we completely understand each other.
What happened did not happen to everyone in the same way, what happened is not objectively what happened because every person involved thinks in a different way and thinks something different happened.
„I can only tell you what happened, he said. Well, maybe you’re misinterpreting what happened.“
I think Sally Rooney’s answer here is – emotions, emotions are the most important part of our human relationships but they too often get shoved away. And, they can’t make everything better, as much as we want them to. If it were only up to emotions Marianne and Connell would not have difficulties at all.
„Their feelings were suppressed so carefully in everyday life, forced into smaller and smaller spaces, until seemingly minor events took on insane and frigtening significance.“
What is a relationship? It’s filled with emotions, love, history, dominance and submission, the positive and the negative at the same time. Do we lose ourselves in it or stay ourselves completely? Do we turn into different people or stay the same. And how are we determined by what others think of us, how important is the approval of others to us and the relationships we are in?
„He was like a freezer item that had thawed too quickly on the outside and was melting everywhere, while the inside was still frozen solid.“
And in the end, what is a relationship for? For Marianne it was healing, moving forward, for Connell it was growing up. Every single event, thought and emotion has a purpose, it gets us from some place to another. And the best relationships let us grow disregarding their end result. Even an ended relationship can be a very positive one.
„life offers us these moments of joy despite everything.“