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Banned Book Review: Ordinary People

February 6, 2006

59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest

Reason: Challenged for obscene language and sexual innuendos.

Ordinary People is the story of an “ordinary family” working through the pain of one son’s death, and the other son’s suicide attempt.  Except really, this story is about the façade of the upper class.  There are few “ordinary people” who would be able to jet off to Europe to mourn for the death of a son.  Most of the characters spend a lot of time trying to be seen as normal by the rest of the characters.  Through the course of the book, the reader is shown the cracks behind the masks, and some of the characters come to terms with their masks.  In contrast, some of the characters build up their masks to further hide their emotions.  It is well written, simple, and direct, but it’s not as brilliant as some of the reviewers claim.  Guest does deal interestingly with the subject of masturbation, even avoids direct mentions of it in conversations between the suicidal son and his therapist, leaving it instead to the innuendos which got the book banned.

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