October 25, 1982 12:00 PM

by Judith Guest

The author of Ordinary People tells her new story from the points of view of three characters: a divorced lawyer whose ex-wife has remarried and taken their two children to another city; a divorced woman whose former husband, a doctor, couldn’t leave other women alone; a 16-year-old boy who has run away from a cruel father who abuses him. Guest’s heroine is wonderfully well drawn. She’s an artist who does watercolors and buys an old bungalow in which she starts dozens of projects she never completes. She is worried about her own drinking, but her heart goes out to the injured runaway when he shows up at her front door during a snowstorm. The boy, a far more difficult character for a writer, comes through well, too—his scenes in juvenile prison are harrowing. The lawyer is the weakest part of this book and, since he is the first character the reader meets, the beginning is slow and unconvincing. He is well-meaning, yet far too much the romantic, soap opera hero. For readers who can stick past the opening section, though, the ending is guaranteed to put lumps in the throat. (Viking, $14.95)

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