I recently started Conversations with Friends and, fortunately, it took me out of my reading slump. I was hooked from the first page and all the credit goes to Sally Rooney’s compelling writing because I can’t say much about the characters. I didn’t feel the characters were the most remarkable people or “flawed”. I felt they were real. You liked them, you hated them, you followed them through a thrilling journey- a journey of new adulthood.
“Was I kind to others? It was hard to nail down an answer. I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one of the unkind ones. Did I only worry about this question because as a woman I felt required to put the needs of others before my own? Was “kindness” just another term for submission in the face of conflict? These were the kind of things I wrote about in my diary as a teenager: as a feminist I have the right not to love anyone.”
The book takes the reader through the protagonist, Frances’, life after she and her best friend/ex-girlfriend, Bobbi, befriend a couple, Nick and Mellisa. As Frances and Nick have an affair, we learn about the characters’ vulnerabilities, interpersonal dynamics, insecurities, and fear and they are much like the vulnerabilities of every other person we meet in our lives. The first half of the book felt like a fever dream from a wattpad novel or a fake reddit story in Sally Rooney’s impeccable writing.
Everyone’s always going through something, aren’t they? That’s life, basically. It’s just more and more things to go through
The reason I am completely taken aback by Sally Rooney’s writing is that her writing is simple yet surprisingly effective. The conversations feel real, (except for the abundant use of e-mails), which humanizes the narcissistic characters, explains their actions, connects the reader to the protagonist ,and mainly the title “Conversations with Friends”. Also, the tiny details are incorporated so carefully which makes up the book to the masterpiece it is.
“Standing in his house was like watching someone familiar smile at me, but with missing teeth. I wanted to hurt myself again, in order to feel returned to the safety of my own physical body. Instead I turned around and walked out. I pulled my sleeve over my hand to shut the door.”
“I am normal, I thought. I have a body like anyone else. Then I scratched my arm open until it bled, just a faint spot of blood, widening into a droplet. I counted to three and afterwards opened the bandage, placed it carefully over my arm, and disposed of the plastic wrap.”
One major drawback for me was the lack of growth for the protagonist, we see her go through emotional and physical turmoil but the lack of better understanding at the end left me a bit dissatisfied. I also felt Frances character remained pretty one-dimensional- a rebel with a disturbed home. I would have loved to delve more into her character.
Also. I am pretty excited about the upcoming series based on this book. Personally, I feel Nick and Mellisa’s casting is perfect!