Just finished reading Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney. The firm chokehold that Rooney has on the contemporary literary scene is so fascinating to me and as long as she’s releasing books about young, affluent people who lack communication skills, I’ll be gobbling them up.
In Beautiful World, we follow three best friends and their loves and losses over the period of a couple of years. The narrative is punctuated by emails sent between the two female best friends as they update one another on their relationships and more generally, their fear about the modern world which is crumbling around them. The women are the types of twenty-somethings that will say things like “when [The Soviet Union] died, so did history” and absolutely mean it. They’re infuriatingly arrogant and almost insufferable — I say ‘almost’ because of course, we can’t help but attach ourselves to these characters because like all Rooney’s readers, we too are first-world-problem-self-centring individuals and these characters only speak aloud the grandiose thoughts most of us save for our notes app.
Add that to the book’s very frequent sex scenes (seriously, have all of her books been this filthy?) and you have a book that is very hard to put down. I squirmed at the final chapter where Rooney acknowledges the pandemic head on and has her characters update each other on their lockdown experiences, but the rest of this book is pure millennial escapism at its sharpest. This is a decadent and impressive novel which I’ll forget all about until Rooney emerges from obscurity again and sells me yet another overpriced hardback.