Ordinary People

by Judith Guest

Paperback, 1982

Status

Available

Collection

Publication

Penguin Books (1982), Paperback, 272 pages

Description

Seventeen-year-old Conrad returns home from a mental institution, where he was sent after his brother's accidental death and his own ensuing suicide attempt. To begin a new life, he must learn to accept himself and those close to him.

Language

Original publication date

1976

Physical description

272 p.; 5.16 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member DLayton
This book follows the confusion and depression of a young man who looses his brother in a tragic accident. I felt Conrad's pain, and I hated and loved his mother at the same time. There is a sense of hope in the end although still a bit sad which makes the book seem very realistic and triumphant.
LibraryThing member KatieWallace
Be careful. This is a very good book, but extremely difficult. For people who are struggling with depression, stay away until you are feeling stronger.
LibraryThing member Voop
This is a good work of fiction. The author draws out many emotions from the reader. It is a bit 'sensationalised ', if you could useed that word. As in reality living with a mental illness and having suicide attempts within your family is a get deal more complicated and painfull than the book
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depicts.
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LibraryThing member Kace
I had to read this book in my lit class in 10th grade. I didn't particulairly like the story, but it was well written.
LibraryThing member campingmomma
It took me a couple weeks to read this 260+ pg. book only because with my short term memory loss sometimes when I have to stop reading suddenly ( like waiting at the dr.'s office and they call your name), I totally have to backtrack read so I never got far. It was so intense and well written I
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didn't want to forget a single detail of the story. So, today I took the day off and read the whole book.

It was a book I acquired from one of my children's former schools when at the end of the school year they still can't find it in their room or their car and I ended up paying for it so I thought I would read it. I found it while moving recently. I had no idea it was about a post suicidal teenager who's brother died in an accident a year or two before and I would say that would be my only complaint about the book. The author really took her time in telling what tragedies had befallen the Jarret Family and mixed that information with the current ongoings of the family and sometimes I would find myself confused as to what time and event I was reading about. I can't really put my finger on it, but it is another of the reasons I needed to read it nearly straight through. I would have liked to been able to savor it more, but because of all the innertwining of the stories I felt rushed to get to the next bit of information about the next event. I rushed through it so I could remember all the details and because I couldn't wait to see what lie on the next page, yet because I couldn't savor it I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked. Don't let me deter anyone from reading it for just that reason. It was a fabulous book to read. I'm kind of glad I paid for it.
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LibraryThing member caroren
Highly acclaimed novel about family dealing with the sudden accidental drowning of one son and the attempted suicide of the another. The novel shows us how each family member copes differently with the tragedy and the disruption and the guilt which is inevitable.
LibraryThing member moonshineandrosefire
This book is about a family's reaction to a younger son's attempted suicide after his older brother's drowning death. It's a book about the family coming to terms with the sadness and grief in their lives. I enjoyed this book very much and give it an A+!
LibraryThing member SoonerCatholic
Setting: This novel about healing and self-help is set in Chicago during the 1970s.

Plot: The Jarrett family struggles to overcome their grief at the loss of one of the boys.

Characters: Conrad (protagonist) attempted suicide, trying to return to normal; Cal- Conrad's father, overprotective; Beth
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(antagonist) unable to forgive, perfectionist; Berger- psychiatrist

Symbols: not symbolic

Characteristics: Written as how people think, switches point of view between father and son.

My reaction: The book was fascinating because of the unique point of view; but I disliked it for its excessive profanity and the fornication. It was hopeful book, however.
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LibraryThing member BBcummings
The theme of dealing with loss makes this book timeless. At times a bit morbid, but no overly so and anyway what to do you expect, given the subject matter. The prose is compact and on target.
LibraryThing member KLmesoftly
This was such an unassuming little volume I didn't have many expectations going in, but if anything the shortness of the book only amplified its emotional impact. The cast is a family of 3 who lost their eldest teenage son about 18 months prior and whose youngest son has just been released from the
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psychiatric inpatient facility he'd been living in following a suicide attempt; chapters alternate between the son's narration and the father's (and interestingly, despite the fact that we only "see" her through her male relatives' eyes, the mother is one of the more compelling and complex characters of the bunch).

I'm a sucker for that Good Will Hunting type "eccentric therapist helps young person through grief" trope anyway, so I probably would have enjoyed this even if it were trite and cliched - it isn't though.
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LibraryThing member kittyjay
A deeply moving, thoughtful book, Ordinary People takes a brutally close look at the dynamics of a family coping with the loss of a child. Conrad, the surviving child, struggles with his own guilt and pain by attempting suicide and has just been released from a mental hospital. Calvin, the father,
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feels as if he has let down both his sons and suddenly feels uncertain, reeling from the fact that he could not protect his own family. Finally, there is Beth, the mother, who comes across as cold and aloof to even her own family, and struggles with finding out that not everything in the world can be perfect and controlled.

Richly drawn, each of the characters feels real and three-dimensional. Conrad is by turns a normal, sarcastic teenager, a kid wracked with guilt over his brother's death, and a little boy who doesn't know where to go from here. His grief can be heartbreaking to read, but his desperate attempts to hide it are even more so.

The true stand-out, however, is the mother. Beth is a mystery. While Guest often allows us into Cal's and Conrad's minds, we never see Beth's thoughts, only the perceptions filtered through others' eyes. Much of what she does is up to interpretation: is she truly cold and emotionally unavailable? Or is she simply coping with her loss by trying to ignore it?

If you have ever seen the equally astounding film directed by Robert Redford and starring Timothy Hutton, then you'll find that the screenplay was remarkably faithful to the book; however, I would argue that the book has slightly more nuances with regard to Beth's character.

I am not normally a fan of dramas, but this is one of the most engrossing, oftentimes painful, books I have ever read.
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LibraryThing member lamotamant
I really liked this book. Probably not surprising, it is billed as "one of the great bestsellers of our time" right on the cover. However, it was surprising to me to not be confronted with the wholesale emotional ride which, I have to admit, I expected. There's a rich depth to the emotional and
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mental wells of Guest's characters. They're believable, relatable, and stirring.
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LibraryThing member quondame
When real tragedy happens in a family that is centered on a surface perfections it sets off a slow avalanche which strips illusions and shatters identities. The reader enters the story after the main events to see where the pieces fall.
LibraryThing member Huba.Library
A profoundly moving, thoughtful book, Ordinary People takes a brutally close look at the dynamics of a family coping with the loss of a child. Conrad, the surviving child, struggles with his guilt and pain by attempting suicide and has just been released from a mental hospital. Calvin, the father,
Show More
feels as if he has let down both his sons and suddenly feels uncertain, reeling from the fact that he could not protect his family. Finally, Beth, the mother, comes across as cold and aloof to her family and struggles to discover that not everything can be perfect and controlled.

Richly drawn, each of the characters feels real and three-dimensional. Conrad is, by turn, a typical, sarcastic teenager, a kid wracked with guilt over his brother's death, and a little boy who doesn't know where to go from here. His grief can be heartbreaking to read, but his desperate attempts to hide it are even more so.

The true stand-out, however, is the mother. Beth is a mystery. While Guest often allows us into Cal's and Conrad's minds, we never see Beth's thoughts; only the perceptions are filtered through others' eyes. Much of what she does is up to interpretation: is she truly cold and emotionally unavailable? Or is she simply coping with her loss by trying to ignore it?

If you have ever seen the equally astounding film directed by Robert Redford and starring Timothy Hutton, then you'll find that the screenplay was remarkably faithful to the book; however, the book has slightly more nuances about Beth's character.

I am not usually a fan of dramas, but this is one of the most fascinating, often painful, books I have ever.
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Pages

272

Rating

½ (495 ratings; 3.8)
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