Thursday, October 1, 2009

ordinary people

Last night I finished reading Ordinary People by Judith Guest. I found it upstairs in our house library and I picked it up because it seemed so unassuming: I can't remember any reason other than that. When I opened the book to begin reading, I noticed that on the very first page a previous reader had written the following:
I want to punch that person in the face. I'm sure that they must have thought that they were doing others a service by posting their own opinion permanently in this apparently grossly offensive book to warn future readers of its perversion. They were not. All they managed to do was show that their own short-sighted judgement was not worthy of consideration.

"This book was alright"?! This book was beautiful. It was insightful and captivating; it is the first book I've read in a long time that pulled me into its own world so completely that I forgot everything going on around me. The characters are fleshed out and believable, interesting, sympathetic, and at the same time not completely explained. Their emotions were complex and personal and at the same time relatable. I found myself thinking about the book even while I wasn't reading it, always a sign of something that is well-written.

The novel helped me remember that everyone has difficult things in their lives. You'd think being here in Ecuador would make me more aware of that in a more tangible way and maybe it is a sign of my own short comings that a work of fiction has done it better than real-life experience. Regardless, Judith Guest helped bring the emotionality of human experience to the forefront of my mind. Some of the kids I'm working with down here were abandoned as babies, found in a church or by the side of the road without any explanation or apologies. Others were abused by their families and taken away by the state. Others of us lead lives that are not as apparently broken or fragile but sometimes are, hidden inside. We just need to remember that everyone needs love, whether they appear to have everything else going for them or not.

And that is my soap box rant for the day. Read this book: I'm glad I did.

4 comments:

steph goodson said...

here here. or hear hear? i don't remember...my bad. anyway, that was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard (and by heard I mean read). You are awesome!

Autumn Clement said...

Maybe she was an ordinary person...

Wow, I still can't believe that. Maybe in a post it note or something, but in an official looking red ink pen!!! For shame!

Chester Elton said...

It is so important to remember that different people communicate in different ways. Sometimes we are too quick to disregard a work because of a few words we find inappropriate words.

Good for you for looking past a few words to find a real gem.

Dad

megalicious said...

Oh, little Cassandra. I would be equally upset if someone were to write something mean with permanent ink on the front of one of my catalogs.