Irish author Sally Rooney already staked her claim as a leading millennial novelist with her incisive 2017 debut, Conversations With Friends. In her second book, a popular but poor high school boy falls into bed with a geeky but rich girl. Over the next several years, Connell and Marianne struggle to stay together as the control in the relationship shifts from one to the other. Rooney showcases a deep understanding of the power dynamics that shape modern romances, which are defined not only by sex, popularity and intelligence, but also by anxieties brought on by social media, class tensions and a public reckoning with domestic abuse. Rooney was once a champion debater, and the book comes alive when her two main characters, intellectual equals, spar with one another. Their mutual resentment bubbles beneath their banter, as does a desperation to be understood and loved.
Buy now: Normal People