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 overindulgence 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.