Review of Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Hi friends–it’s been a minute! So much has changed in my life but my book addiction is still going strong! Although I’m still going to work (#nurselife), quarantine life has provided me with even more time to read. I had just finished Sally Rooney’s second novel Normal People (review to come) when this COVID-19 madness started and loved it so much I wanted to read anything and everything she’s ever written. Thus, my last purchase from my favorite local bookstore before it closed its doors for quarantine was Sally Rooney’s first novel entitled Conversations with Friends.  

Conversations with Friends is about ex-girlfriends and best friends Bobbi and Frances who meet a photographer Melissa at one of their local poetry readings and are slowly drawn into her and her husband Nick’s world. As time goes on, Frances and Nick develop a level of intimacy that pushes the boundaries of his marriage with Melissa and the complex relationship between her and Bobbi which this book dives into.

It’s safe to say I have a love-hate relationship with the characters in this book, which speaks to Rooney’s incredible writing style and expert ability to create such deeply flawed characters. Frances and Bobbi are frustratingly relatable. I don’t think I’ve ever read an author that developed such complex and three dimensional characters within the first few chapters of their book. She allows them to be so vulnerable about their insecurities and difficult pasts but still creates a level of mystery that, even in my greatest moments of frustration with Frances and Bobbi’s decisions, left me unable to stop turning the pages. I couldn’t help but recognize bits of myself and various people in my life in them but the trajectory of their character development often left me contemplating some of the less than favorable aspects of myself and humanity as a whole.  Ultimately, Rooney perfectly captures the distinct and often toxic self-absorption that is often rampant in young adulthood. 

My only critique is that I was slightly disappointed by the ending. Without giving too much away, I feel like I needed a little more resolution. While I respected the fact that Rooney resolved many of the story’s conflicts in a way that was authentic to the characters she created, the ending felt as though there wasn’t as much growth from the characters and I had hoped. That being said, I overall enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend to anyone that’s looking for a new and distinct voice in the fiction world.

4/5 stars

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