The Biographies of Ordinary People—Volume 1: 1989–2000

Nicole Dieker

Publisher: Pronoun Pages: 382 Price: (ebook) $3.99 ISBN: 9780998674308 Reviewed: March, 2017 Author Website: Visit »

This novel follows the lives of the Gruber family: parents Jack and Rosemary and daughters Meredith, Natalie and Jackie.

As the story opens, Rosemary is celebrating her 35th birthday and the family is about to travel from Oregon to Missouri for Jack’s new job. In Missouri, the Grubers befriend the MacAllisters, whose lifestyle is quite different from theirs; there is the “Gruber way,” and the “MacAllister way.” In the Gruber household, the children are taught, for example, “…that food is served only at the table.” Life there is tidy and well mannered. The MacAllister household is somewhat messy; the rules fewer.

The children navigate their way through school, music lessons and dance classes, becoming known as “the Gruber girls,” just as Jack and his siblings were known as “the Gruber kids.” They sing, act in local plays and enter talent shows, while Rosemary teaches piano and Jack teaches music and leads the college band and chamber orchestra. With the exception of a few bumps in the road, such as the decline of Rosemary’s mother’s health, life moves on a fairly smooth course.

True to its title, these are the stories of ordinary people—people who almost always do the right thing, are intelligent and talented with little drama in their lives. While there is very little plot, the writing is descriptive and thoughtful; the characters likeable. Rather than stories, these are slices of life rendered in a straightforward manner.

In less capable hands, the style could grow quickly tiresome, but Dieker takes her time establishing the personalities and relationships, encouraging a bond with her audience. In the end, the book succeeds in drawing readers into this quiet world. It’s likely to be enjoyed by individuals who do not require a great deal of action or drama.

Also available in paperpack.

Author's Current Residence
Seattle, Washington
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