Monday, August 10, 2009

Ordinary People

Ordinary People Ordinary People
by Judith Guest

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not 100% sure how this book, a 1980s version of the paperback, ended up on my bookshelves. Best bet was that it belonged to either my brother or one of my sisters, and it somehow got moved to California with me. I've noticed it around for awhile, but hadn't been motivated to read it until recently when I was looking for other paperbacks to lend to a friend.

While the reviews on the book jacket all claimed the book was "timeless", I can say that now 30 years on, it is a bit dated. The stay at home moms, 18 year olds legally drinking beer, the descriptions of the "cool cars", and discussion of shock therapy as if it is a normal occurrence in psych wards.

The book started out annoying me by referring to one of the main characters by several different nicknames - without clarifying they were the same person. It doesn't help that his last name could also be a first name (Jarrett). His first name was Conrad, which was often Con, Connie, or Jarrett. This got worse when they referred to his deceased brother in the same way (often just by his last name, which is shared by both sons and the parents), a nickname (Buck) or his first name (which I don't remember, but was something odd like Jared... not that Jared is odd, but Jared Jarrett would be...)

The story itself is a simple tale of a family coming together and falling apart at the same time. We only see the story from the perspectives of Conrad and Cal (Calvin, Jarrett, the man, etc), but never from the mother's side. This leaves the impression that many of the problems in the family could be root caused to her coldness and refusing to communicate. If I've learned anything in this world, is that a different story can be told by all people in the same room that witnessed the same events, as the human brain will tell a "back story" to fill in the blanks which will bias your opinion, regardless of whether or not your back story was correct.

It was a short book, a decent way to pass the time, but I'm happy to move on from this tale.

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  1. Patricia Ortiz-ConsidineAugust 10, 2009 at 9:46 AM

    Valerie did you see the Movie version with Mary Tyler More, Donald Southerland and Timothy Hutton. It was pretty good. The book seems a bit different. Check it out if you have not already.

  2. No, haven't seen the movie. Sounds like I should add it to my "to rent" list - I love Mary Tyler Moore!