Judith Guest is an author who has had a major impa

ct on the writing industries. Her ability to portray family situations, and interactions between people accurately as well
,as naturally, makes her books profound and appealing to readers. Criticisms of her work
ring out revolutionary, true to life, and excellent. I thought that Ordinary People book
was one of the more thought provoking books that I have read.

Judith Guest is just a run of the mill average, everyday person. Guest was born
on March 29, 1936, in Detriot, Michigan. She married Larry Guest on August 22, 1958.
She also has three children: Larry, John, and Richard. A quick glance at Judith Guests
Biography will show her as an astute teacher and moreover, a dynamic person. She taught
in public school from 1964 to 1975.Her first book was published in 1976. Ordinary
People was Guests first novel, as well as her first published novel. While liveing in
Illionous Guest wrote for two newspapers: Palatine Press and Arlington Heights Herald.
Guest states that: I learned a lot doing that; I learned about the disipline of writing –
having to meet a deadline and haveing to conform to the limits of a certain space.()
Guest also expressed sentiments that many people share with her: I also learned that i
dont like to do either one of those things! ()
Guest spent a great deal of time on her first novel. Unlike many other writers
Guest did not start her novel until she was in her thirties. Most writers begin their first
effort in their twenties. If anyone were to consider that an advantage or disadvantage; she
states plainly in an interview that she felt that she encountered all of the same problems
that any aspiring writer or noble prize winner faces. Guests qutoe:
No, I dont think so. Theres a certain process that has to be gone
through, it doesnt matter when you start it. I know that there are people
like John Updike, who published his first novel at age twenty-eight. But
its hard for me to belive that most people have lived long enough and
garnered enough experence and have known what to do with that
experence. You have a lot more to write about when you get to age
forty. ()
Judith Guests work for the most part has been well received. First by readers, her
novel was widely accepted and hailed as true to form. The Washington Post Book World
said: Rejoice! A novel for all ages and all seasons. The New York Times stated:
Admirable…touching…full of anxiety, despair, and joy that is common to every human
experience of suffering and growth. Though some criticisms were less positive the novel
was widely hailed as truly unique and a good work. Another review given by a nationally
renowned publisher, the Detroit Free Press: A writers novel. A readers novel. A
critics novel. A very important novel. The novel has appeal to a wide audience and
without a doubt sets a certain precedent for Guest to follow up on. Critics found Guest
real and genuine. This is shown by Brad Hoopers critque: Guest is perfectly realistic in
her depictions of family situations; her chracters act and react and react with absoulte
creditablilty.() Her appeal is parlty derived from this creditability. Her ablity to put
every day life ,that we all experence, on paper sets her above and beyond other authors.
The satisfaction that readers experence with Guests work is well experssed again by Brad
Hooper. Hooper writes: Expect not only readership demand and satisfaction.()
Guests other works Second Heaven, Killing Time in St. Cloud, and most recently
Errands.
When I read Guests work I found it very true to life. Her ability to make her
novel so true to life from cover to cover allowed me to read the novel more openly. By
reading the novel so openly I did not need to scrutinize her work at all. Her work
,Ordinary People, read more as short story, some how entertaining and inticiting at the
same time. Ordinary People also dealt with a subject, or rather subjects that hit close to
home: suicide and growing up and maturing in adolescence. Suicide is all too common
and as sad as the fact is, I doubt anyone below the age of twenty has been fortunate
enough not to have been some how enveloped in an attempted Suicide. In my life I have
known two people that killed themselves and three that have tried, and thankfully failed.
Once a person has done such a horrible thing, just as in the novel, their act enters a room
with them, and leaves a room only when the peoples concern for that person leaves the
room as well. Con, the main character in Ordinary People has to deal with peoples
overwhelming concern for him in every circumstance. I found Guests description of
Cons family and friends surpassingly accurate. As a friend on the outside looking in on a
bad situation Con and his family interacted true to life. At the same time Con was
recovering form the reproductions of his attempted suicide, he was also going though a
very difficult time in his life. I found that Guest depicted Cons adolescence as well as
anyone could. Writing frustration down on paper in only the tip of the iceberg, maturing
at that age encompasses so much more than getting older and finding new responsibilities.
The novel Ordinary People is true to life and with out a doubt is truly unique.

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Guest has written four works to date. Her work is a very unique blend of true to
life drama and a look in to the lives of those effected by a tragedy. Guest has set a new
standard for me and the literature that I read.


Dean, Jessie. Ordinary People. Online. Boone Online. World Wide Web-Internet. 12
November 1998 Available:
http://www.ced.appstate.edu/whs/ordinary.htm#Review1
McGuire, Megan. 5 Stars. Online. Boone Online. World Wide Web-Internet. 12
November 1998 Available:
http://www.ced.appstate.edu/whs/ordinary.htm#Review2
Kinsman, Clare D. ed. Judith Guest Volume 15 (p 171) Contemporary Authors,
Detroit, 1976
Mooney, Martha T. Judith Guest, Ordinary People 1997 edition, Book Review Digest,
New York 1997