Judith Guest's Ordinary People

Ordinary People - Judith Guest

The Jarrets are a typical American family. Calvin is a determined, successful provider and Beth an organized, efficient wife. They had two sons, Conrad and Buck, but now they have one. In this memorable, moving novel, Judith Guest takes the reader into their lives to share their misunderstandings, pain...and ultimate healing. [ synopsis from goodreads ]



I honestly didn't expect to love this book as much as I did. I don't know what I was expecting going into this but it definitely wasn't what I got. This book was beautiful. This is the type of book that makes me fall in love with reading all over again.

But let me back up. So when I was in high school, we had required reading but they let us pick from a list of books so we could read things that interested us while they were still books the school wanted us to read. This was one of the books on the list but I didn't read it. Anyway, later I took another class at the same school and we were doing some kind of activity and we were talking about the worst book we'd ever read. Our principal said he'd once decided to read all of the books on the required list just to see what they were making the students read/so he could help students if need be. And he said he hated this book.

Well, fast forward some years later (we won't say how many, ha) and I was checking out Mary Tyler Moore's filmography and came across this book. And remembered that conversation from high school and had a sudden overwhelming desire to read this book. And, honestly, I wish I would've read it in high school.

I can see why this book is required reading in so many schools. It's powerful and it's well written and it's something so many high school kids can relate to. I know I would've related to it in high school. But, at the same time, I'm also glad I read it when I'm older and have read more and have more reading experiences with which to compare it. I think it means more now than it would've then. I think I loved it more now because of the time in my life in which I read it.

I've read many books about suicide and psych wards and depression. But I've never read one like this. Most of the ones I've read are memoirs (which isn't a bad thing; I've enjoyed most of them) and most of the stories take place during care. This is the only one I've read that takes place after. This is the only one I've read about putting the pieces back together instead of watching them fall apart.

And this book is about a family. It's not about the patient who is, arguably, the one who is most affected. But this one does something I've never seen a book on this subject do before. This one looks at those fragments. It looks at the patient who is suffering from depression and the two ways in which it affects others/others deal with the affects. And that is 100% the reason why I loved this book so much.

I could also tell you how much I loved all of the characters. Conrad is one of my new favorite characters and Dr. Berger is a close second (Judd Hirsch is so well cast; I could hear him saying everything while I was reading). And Calvin. Calvin was the parent who cared; the parent who stayed. I identified with him on a level I can't even being to explain. He reminded me of my own father. And I'm really glad this book had so many parts from his viewpoint.

So, anyway, I don't really know what's left to say. I devoured this book. Not only is a story that needs telling and someone I think everyone needs to experience but it's also written so beautifully. I wrote down so many wonderfully worded lines. It's so poetic and wonderful.

Depression is so often overlooked or downplayed. It's something we need to talk about. And I think this book starts that dialogue. And for that, it's one I highly recommend.


review originally posted on goodreads