Book Reviews of Ordinary People

Ordinary People
Ordinary People
Author: Judith Guest
ISBN-13: 9780345291325
ISBN-10: 0345291328
Publication Date: 9/12/1980
Pages: 246
Rating:
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 15

4.1 stars, based on 15 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

14 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 2
This is a deeply emotional book about the complexities of the human relationship... You will be asked to look at what is "mother", "father", "child"? The mirror of life held up to your face by the firm hand of Ms. Guest. Confronted you will see yourself in those roles. Who am I ?... Con asks himself and so will you. Hardest of all is Beth, and perhaps the closest to home. Who we perceive ourselves to be, and who we really are. Ordinary people. As for the film ... well written with excellent regard to the core of the book; you will find Mary Tyler Moore's performance especially gripping ... Foolishly overlooked for an Academy award the year the movie came out. Her Beth is as far as I'm concerned Beth. Supported by a fantastic ensemble brings to life an extraordinary story of the ordinary, of people, of you and I...Well worth your time
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A great book.
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An excellent read. Really makes you think about life.
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Very moving / engaging the reader from first to last page
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I have had this book for quite a number of years, and I've reread it over and over again, but after rereading it recently, I realized that I'm done with it
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The extraordinary & critically acclaimed story of an outwardly successful suburban family coping with the devastating lose of one of the children.
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An ordinary family falls apart from the strain of loss, guilt and pride. Academy Award for best picture.
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The Jarretts are the perfect family leading a perfect life in a perfect world: wealthy, respectable, an expensive house in an exclusive neighborhood, European vacations, Texas golf trips. But perfection comes at a price, and when older son Buck dies in a boating accident and surviving son Conrad attempts suicide the difference between the American dream and American reality becomes painfully apparent. The mask of perfection cracks, and those who hide behind it find themselves emotionally unable to rebuild their lives.

Judith Guest brings the reader into the story at the middle, shortly after son Conrad's release from the hospital--and with a somewhat sparse but remarkably eloquent style quickly develops the characters that people Conrad's world as he fights to find balance between his parents and himself, as he works desperately to find a way out of the expectation of perfection imposed upon him by both himself and the society in which he moves.

Guest's characters move with considerable reality and a touching humanity above the novel's unexpectedly complex underpinnings, and the author's prose is smooth, easy to read and understand, and completely faultless. Among the most astonishing elements of the work is the fact that Guest writes the entire novel in the present tense--a risky choice, but one which she brings off with amazing skill. A beautifully written novel and a powerful look at the downside of the American dream
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An ordinary family's response to an extraordinary tragedy.
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Family angst over the tragic death of a family member. Good, but not my cup of tea.
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The Jarrets are just a typical American family. Forty-one year old Cal is the loving husband and father - a determined, successful provider for himself and his family. Thirty-nine year old Beth cherishes her husband and family; organized and efficient, Beth is the backbone of the family. Cal and Beth have two wonderful sons: Eighteen-year-old Jordan - nicknamed Buck - is an extrovert and the perpetual risk-taker in the family. Seventeen-year-old Conrad is the introvert of the family; he is more focused on his future - highly studious, yet extremely shy and reserved.

To all their friends and acquaintances, the Jarrett family is the epitome of perfection. Cal and Beth have a marriage to envy, they are living the type of life that all their friends aspire to lead as well. Buck and Conrad are the type of sons that any parent would be proud to have; two fine, upstanding young men who each have such a bright, promising future ahead of them. Then, tragedy strikes...

When Buck drowns in a boating accident, Cal, Beth and Conrad are left utterly devastated. Cal and Beth's combined grief threatens to overwhelm them both, and Conrad's own feelings of grief and guilt over his older brother's death are practically immeasurable. His growing misperception of his inability to save Buck's life, leads Conrad to do something desperate and suicidal. Ultimately, will the Jarretts be able to grieve the loss of their eldest son, help their younger son cope with his guilt, and heal their own relationship?

I must say that I absolutely loved reading this book. I found that this was a poignant and well-written story; an intriguing look at the dynamics of a grieving family. This is a moving and memorable portrait of each family member's personal, emotional and intensely private journey toward healing and acceptance. I would give this book an A+!
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This is one of the few required reading books that I actually liked from my freshman-level college English class. The family dynamic in the book is nothing like the Cleavers', but that makes their love for each other even more poignant. Worth a read, maybe more than one. It's been in my "keep" pile for years.
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Although this book was written 30 years ago, the themes are still timely. It should be part of high school reading lists. What 16 year old doesn't identify with being awkward and "not as good as [fill in the blank]"? What family doesn't struggle with members who need more love than others are willing/able to give?
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