Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BOOK: Ordinary People by Judith Guest

I really enjoyed this book. I knew the basic plot outline, as the Oscars in 1980 would have been one of the first I remember much about; I knew that Robert Redford directed, and that Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton were in the award-winning movie. And I knew it was a tearjerker type of movie. Alas, I've never seen the movie, probably somewhat due to my (somewhat) strict, unwritten, internal rule to always read the book before seeing the movie. I know, it's been twenty seven years. I finally read the book.

The story is told from the son's, Conrad, point of view and alternates with the father's, Cal. Quite intentionally, the mother's point of view is never shown, and it is her that never really grows. She remains removed, separate from the events of the story. And yet it revolves around her. Both father and son try to get through the healing process of several tragedies that have happened to their family. The novel does a wonderful job of slowly, through flashbacks, telling the story of the death of the older brother, and how each of the remaining family members tries to deal with their guilt and memories. An excellent book, and one that I would read again.

I chose this from a list of banned or challenged books. There was some language, a few sex scenes, but not explicit at all, just referred to. This book is studied in high school, and doesn't seem inappropriate to the experiences many of them would deal with - family expectations, suicide, identity, guilt, and relationships.