It is the first month of 2011, and Marianne and Connell are in high school in a small town in Ireland. Connell is popular, attractive and good looking. Marianne is average looking, intelligent but friendless. Connell’s mother is Marianne’s family’s cleaning lady. Connell’s mom is loving and rational while Marianne’s mother and older brother are abusive and cold. Normal People is the story of their relationship over the next four years. Connell and Marianne sleep together, stop sleeping together, go to college at Trinity in Dublin together, find other people to date there, sleep with each other again, and break off again.
The plot of Normal People may sound trite and dull, but is interesting, emotional and fulfilling. Connell and Marianne are multi-dimensional characters, realistically portrayed. Throughout the four years of their on again, off again affair, the reader slowly begins to understand why they need each other even if the characters do not.