Ordinary People

Judith Guest


I remember an interview with Judith Guest after the 1980 movie based on this book came out. Robert Redford directed the film and wanted to get to know the author of the book. The interviewer wanted to know what Guest had served her famous guest. ‘Meatloaf,’ was her answer. ‘He is welcome to come again any time.’

Well, I don’t know whether Redford ever took her up on her invitation. but it shows the lack of pretense in the author. She is an ordinary person, just like the people she writes about. An ordinary family, torn apart by an extraordinary event that pulls on all the weak spots in their relationship.

What a sad story it is. We are presented with a son who has attempted suicide and struggles to maintain his balance in life. Gradually we learn that he has survived a boating accident that took the life of his brother. Swamped with survivor’s guilt, he tries to find meaning in his life. His parents also struggle with guilt, and the three of them try to find equilibrium in a world turned upside down.

We learn about each family member and hope they find what they need to keep going. An excellent film, based on an excellent book.


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