An American novelist and screenwriter, she is known for her 1982 novel, Second Heaven. Another of her popular works, Ordinary People, was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film.
She taught at a public school for several years before dedicating herself to writing. She published her debut novel, Ordinary People, in 1976.
She is the great-niece of Edgar Guest, a former U.S. Poet Laureate.
She married her college sweetheart, Larry LaVercombe. The couple became parents to three children.
Her novel, Ordinary People, was made into a film starring Mary Tyler Moore.