Recent Re-Reads: Rooney, Ng

I consider both Sally Rooney and Celeste Ng to be two of my favorite authors, though I’ll admit in both cases I prefer their debut novel over their sophomore efforts.  When NORMAL PEOPLE and LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE were adapted for the small screen, I knew I needed to revisit them!

normalpeopleNORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney

First Read: May 2019

My second read of Sally Rooney’s NORMAL PEOPLE proved much better than the first!  I wanted to re-read this one not only because of the recently-released Hulu series but also because I remember not loving it quite as much as Rooney’s debut, CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS, a novel I absolutely adored when I first read it.  Luckily, I thoroughly enjoyed NORMAL PEOPLE this time around; I devoured it in two days whilst swinging on the hammock, whereas my first read stretched out over a few weeks- one of the many problems of being a mood reader!

With this re-read, I found myself with a larger appreciation for the main characters, Marianne and Connell, whom I didn’t necessarily get along with in my first read.  I especially enjoyed seeing their multi-faceted relationship pan out.  One of the most successful elements of NORMAL PEOPLE is its structure; Rooney visits Connell and Marianne for a scene every few months over a period of five years or so, in a way that allows the reader to track their relationship over time.  In my first reading, I was put off by this time-jump structure, but this time around I grew to appreciate Rooney’s playful experiment and the way in which she portrays such a realistic, modern romance.  Everyone and their mother has read this book, but if you’re one of the few who hasn’t, consider jumping aboard!

littlefireseverywhereLITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng

First Read: January 2018

Similarly to NORMAL PEOPLE, Celeste Ng’s sophomore novel, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, was a disappointment the first time around, but with a second reading I grew much more fond of it!  Again, I was inspired to pick this one up because of its recently-released Hulu adaptation, starring none other than Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

What I love most about Ng’s novels is the way she so expertly captures family dynamics.  In my pleasure-reading I tend to lean toward family sagas and books that explore one story from multiple perspectives, and LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE is certainly one of those novels; it follows the adoption story of a Chinese-American baby from the points-of-view of a cast of characters.  I still consider Ng’s first novel, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, to be a significantly more impactful read, but LITTLE FIRES definitely packs a punch, albeit a more domestic one.  By the end of the novel, I felt sympathetic toward each individual character regardless of race or economic status, and I was able to relate to almost everyone–particularly Izzy!– on a personal level.  LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE is an impressive achievement, and one I’m grateful I made the time to re-read.

4 Comments

  1. Literary Elephant

    Great post! I’m glad the rereads were so successful for you this time around! Normal People is a book I’ll want to revisit for sure, Sally Rooney’s writing is such a smooth but hard-hitting delight. And I haven’t actually read Ng yet at all, despite having both of her books on my shelf… I really need to correct that!

    Liked by 1 person

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