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Normal People by Sally Rooney Read Online (FREE)

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Yvonne nods slowly, moving her mouth around in a sympathetic way. Do you feel you’ve made friends here in Dublin? she says. Anyone you’re close with, that you might talk to about how you’re feeling?

My friend Niall, maybe. He was the one who told me about this whole thing.

The college counselling service.

Yeah, says Connell.

Well, that’s good. He’s looking out for you. Niall, okay. And he’s here in Trinity as well.

Connell coughs, clearing the dry feeling from his throat, and says: Yeah. I have another friend who I would be pretty close with, but she’s on Erasmus this year.

A friend from college?

Well, we went to school together but she’s in Trinity now as well. Marianne. She would have known Rob and everything. Our friend who died. But she’s away this year, like I said.

He watches Yvonne write down the name on her notepad, the tall slopes of the capital ‘M’. He talks to Marianne almost every night on Skype now, sometimes after dinner or sometimes late when she comes home from a night out. They’ve never talked about what happened in Italy. He’s grateful that she’s never brought it up. When they speak the video stream is high quality but frequently fails to match the audio, which gives him a sense of Marianne as a moving image, a thing to be looked at. People in college have been saying things about her since she went away. Connell’s not sure if she knows about it or not, what people like Jamie have been saying. Connell isn’t even really friends with those people and he’s heard about it. Some drunk guy at a party told him that she was into weird stuff, and that there were pictures of her on the internet. Connell doesn’t know if it’s true about the pictures. He’s searched her name online but nothing has ever come up.

Is she someone you might talk with about how you’re feeling? Yvonne says.

Yeah, she’s been supportive about it. She, uh … She’s hard to describe if you don’t know her. She’s really smart, a lot smarter than me, but I would say we see the world in a similar way. And we’ve lived our whole lives in the same place, obviously, so it is a bit different being away from her.

It sounds difficult.

I just don’t have a lot of people who I really click with, he says. You know, I struggle with that.

Do you think that’s a new problem, or is it something familiar to you?

It’s familiar, I suppose. I would say in school I sometimes had that feeling of isolation or whatever. But people liked me and everything. Here I feel like people don’t like me that much.

He pauses, and Yvonne seems to recognise the pause and doesn’t interrupt him.

Like with Rob, that’s my friend who died, he says. I wouldn’t say we clicked on this very deep level or anything, but we were friends.