Genres: Contemporary Fiction
This is exactly the kind of book that draws me in, with the couples trying to figure out if staying together will eventually heal their relationship or if it will break them. Those are always emotional reads that make me look into my own self and reflect on my choices. I was ready to let Ordinary People destroy me.
Ordinary People is the story of two couples, Michael and Melissa, and Damien and Stephanie, living in London and trying to make their relationships work while staying true to who they are. Melissa finds it difficult to be who she truly is, consumed with housework and her children. Michael sees Melissa growing colder and colder towards him and cannot seem to get their relationship to be how it used to be… which makes him look at other women with different eyes. All Stephanie ever wanted was to have her family and a lovely home, but since Damien’s father died, it has been nearly impossible to have any kind of relationship with him. He’s distant, quieter and in his heart he feels like he doesn’t belong.
This was quite a ride, and I was debating whether to give it 3 or 4 stars for a while. I’ve decided on 3 because I found myself getting bored quite often and glazing over entire paragraphs. I’ve had to force myself to start entire pages over because the long, long descriptions of things got me uninterested. But when it came to the atmosphere and the introspection of each characters as they look into who they are and their lives… this novel shines. A beautiful portrayal of how each one of them was unique and contrary and just right in who they are, even if their lives were nowhere close to what they wished.
I also chuckled quite a few times, which is so unique for a novel with such complicated topics.
There is a surprising depth to the topics the author weaves in the story of each character, but they never feel explored enough. I wanted to see more about racism, about the relationship of a black man with a white woman, the difficulties, how she dealt with racism towards her children, did it open her eyes? Was she already aware of how society treats black people? There is also a rather awkward supernatural subplot that comes and goes and then is dismissed entirely and feels out of tone with the rest of the book. I love a good magical realism, supernatural and Gothic tones… but this was not in harmony with the book. But I appreciate the metaphor it provided for the confusing, suffocating and eternally dirty feel of Melissa’s situation.
This book definitely sets the tone of the scenes very well and it’s imperative to stop sometimes, no matter how enthralled you are, and listen to some of the songs mentioned, allowing your heart to break just a little more. Here is the book’s playlist (from Diana Evan’s website) if you want to listen to it!