When I was reading “Conversations with Friends,” I had to keep reminding myself that this was Sally Rooney’s debut novel because it was so well-written.
In this book, Frances struggles to find her place in the professional writing world with the help of Melissa, a successful journalist, while simultaneously fighting the feelings that she’s developing for Melissa’s husband, Nick.
I read this book in less than 24 hours.
Rooney has a way of making everything that she writes sound urgent and important, even if her characters are just having dinner or getting on a bus. I think it’s this level of urgency that keeps me reading because I feel like I have to read quickly to keep up with the characters.
I always know that I’m reading a good book when I feel like the characters are controlling my reading experience instead of me controlling it. This makes the characters and the world that they’re in feel real.
Frances is a very likeable narrator, despite some of her more questionable decisions. She’s very easy to root for, especially in the rare moments that she decides what she wants instead of following what others do.
The way that the characters interact with each other is very interesting; everyone wants to impress everyone else, yet no one really likes each other. For these characters, acceptance and self-validation are so important that they’re willing to spend time with people they don’t really like just to get it.
I found it difficult at some points to root for Frances and Nick but easy at others. In general, Melissa is a very unlikable character to me, but I wished Nick would just end his marriage to her instead of cheating on her.
Frances is a great main character for a lot of reasons, especially because of how many layers she has in her personality. Rooney does an excellent job of showing Frances’s anxiety without really needing to say the words. On the surface, Frances appears to be an emotionless character, but really she just doesn’t know how to show her feelings, so she hurts herself instead.
This was a five-star book for me, just like Rooney’s “Normal People.”