If Ordinary People is about compromise, it is also about how we live today and, refreshingly, Evans shows this through the prism of black and mixed-race identities, conjuring an urban milieu that is middle-class and non-white ... the soap-opera trajectory of Evans’s Ordinary People has a movie quality. It could easily be reimagined for the screen, though the film would not capture the sheer energy and effervescence of Evans’s funny, sad, magnificent prose.
But the agony of ordinary life is also what makes Ordinary People an absorbing read. Evans gives us an entirely believable account of relationships, recognising how they defeat us, encircle us and leave us gasping for air ... Evans presents a sympathetic and smartly satirical portrait of metropolitan-minded thirtysomethings, as they come to terms with their thwarted youth and wilted ambitions ... The fact of race is always there in the novel — Melissa, Michael and Damian variously reflect on their heritage — but there is something radical in how Evans depicts the ordinary lives of young black people, faithfully, fully and quietly.
Evans zooms out to build her characters’ culturally rich backstories as they struggle to recognize their older selves and the relationships that have aged along with them. A probing, entertaining, and self-affirming novel of men and women getting relatably lost in the crises and hauntings of early midlife.