Bookish | Ordinary People by Judith Guest (Review)

160251The 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.

I read this book for my Adolescent Lit class.

Personal Enjoyment: ●●○○○
Writing Quality: ●●●●○
Recommendability: ●●○○○

If you’re planning to read this book at all, I recommend you go in knowing exactly as much as I’ve said so far. Which is next to nothing at all.

If not, this should still be a very short review, mostly because I still don’t want to give too much about this book away.

This book is about a family, narrated by father (Cal) and son (Con), in the wake of Con’s attempted suicide. It’s a story about grief and depression and what it means to be ordinary.

For the most part, this was a very emotional book. I laughed, I cried, and everything in between. It’s a very short, quick read. However, it’s a deeply flawed book. I felt the way the author presented sex and romantic relationships almost like a cure for mental illness was problematic. I also felt like the use of homophobic slurs were unnecessary and added nothing to the story, which had nothing to do with the possibility of Connor being gay, though the language was probably accurate for the time (the book was set in 1975). The author tried to present a very clear message about how everyone goes through struggles, even the most outwardly perfect family, but I felt it got a bit muddled in the end. The characters go from troubled to “better” in the space between final chapter and epilogue, rendering the entire book a bit… unnecessary. I was completely confused and unsatisfied.

This book was nothing like what I expected, yet still disappointing. I originally gave it 4 stars on Goodreads but knocked it down to somewhere between 2.5 to 3 stars.


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