Ordinary people on any street where you live, people you might know, people you'll know better at the end of this straight, unassuming, encroaching first novel. A family, or what's left of it--the Jarretts, after the circumstantial whim which took the life of their eldest boy in a boating accident and left Conrad, less ""perfect,"" but much nicer with a sense of guilt he couldn't shake and still can't, even after trying to commit suicide, hospitalization, and now his return home. Home being the place where you keep your distance--from an indifferent, inaccessible mother and perhaps a too protective father who have to come to terms with other difficulties. This finds Conrad attempting to deal with everyone's unease, particularly his own, but slowly connecting (at school, with a girl) until someone he knew in the hospital--one of those two who's going to try again--kills herself, shattering his precarious stability. This has none of the sentimental indulgence of Rose Garden; the obligatory referral and potential market (young people will also like this). Where it does succeed, and succeed it does, is in communicating a sense of life both felt and experienced without ever trespassing beyond actuality. Ordinary People is an exceptionally real book.