I know a lot of people have read this one already, so I’m keeping it brief.
Things I liked:
- I read Normal People when I was 21 and loved it (partly because I was of university-age and the fact that I was in Dublin made the experience extra special). Meanwhile, I found that reading Conversations with Friends at 23 didn’t hit the same and I think a big reason for this was because I couldn’t see myself in any of the characters. Now, with BWWAY, still 23, I feel there is lots to relate to in this book in terms of navigating adult relationships, working full-time, having friends who are on very different journeys to you etc. This is a very long way of saying that I basically appreciate Rooney’s choice to move away from teenage love and friendships.
- Sally Rooney’s writing is phenomenal as always. For a writer of romance novels, she has this unique talent of turning a cringe, overdone genre into something raw and impactful. Similarly, the use of place and descriptions of coastal scenes were great.
- Rooney has been writing about queer relationships so this is nothing new, but I do think in this book she does a great job of writing on Eileen and Felix’s bisexuality and loved that it wasn’t made into a plot device at any point.
Things I didn’t like:
- Did anyone else despise Felix? He’s so unnecessarily mean. There’s unlikeable characters and then there are UNLIKEable characters.
- The discussions surrounding religion, mainly Catholicism, weren’t fleshed out enough to really say anything of value. It’s a shame because I thought there was a lot of potential with these aside conversations.
- The mention of the pandemic at the end of the book - I’m living it so why would I want to read about it?
I did love this book, maybe not as much as Normal People, but definitely a lot more than Conversations with Friends. And this may be a controversial opinion but I do also believe it’s Rooney’s most complex and accomplished work yet. If you’re a Rooney fan you’ve probably already read BWWAY, but if you haven’t yet and you enjoyed her previous works, I think you may like this one too.