Believing that this is a debut novel is almost impossible. This book was recommended to me by one of the bookish podcasts I usually listen to and I couldn’t be happier to have read it. Sally Rooney’s writing style instantly uncovers her undoubtable talent at combining beautifully crafted metaphors with the simplicity of adequate, necessary storytelling words. Her acclaimed novel is about the ambiguous relationship between Bobbi and Frances: two spoken word artists who got noticed during one of their night performances by the renowned photographer and essayist Melissa who invites them home to share dinner and discuss their seemingly interesting artistic lives.
Their two very different worlds soon merge into one single eventful set of adventures as Bobbi and Frances increasingly spend time with Melissa and her husband, even on their occasional trips where it slowly appears that secrets are being kept from one another at all levels. I don’t want to spoil so I will have to stop recounting the sequel of the story in a favor of what I liked or did not like most about this book. The construction and choice of characters is definitely breathtaking. They all felt so real to the extent that I continuously wondered how the author managed to come up with such meticulous, rich and enticing descriptions.
I must admit that I particularly liked Frances because her artistic and literary interests resonated with me especially when she spoke about her love for poetry and learning in general. The story was filled with tributes to the power of words: Frances’ spoken word poetry, the consequences of the article published by Frances on Bobbi, the significance of Nick’s words and so much more…
Most importantly, the themes of female friendship, challenging the status quo as well as intimacy are brilliantly explored in what seems to be an unapologetic advocacy of truthfulness and spontaneity. Sally Rooney’s prose is definitely not used to impress but rather explores the realms of exactitude with so much talent. I highly recommend this novel, for now, it’s time to explore Sally Rooney’s second novel Normal people to find back her already missed literary magic.