She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

I…. have no idea how to begin this review, so I’m just going to dive into the plot. I’ll try not to spoil too heavily, but I feel like that’s going to be fairly difficult.

She’s Come Undone is a novel told in first-person by Dolores Price, who is, to be quite honest, a perfect bitch for most of the book. The narrative begins in 1956, when Dolores is four and her family receives a gift from her father’s boss/mistress- a black-and-white TV. She considers this the beginning of her life. For Dolores, things start falling apart early in life; her parents divorce, her mother suffers a mental breakdown, she moves in with her grandmother and begins school in Rhode Island where she makes no friends and is attacked viciously (verbally) by her peers. For years, everything goes downhill. And then towards the end, it gets better. This past paragraph explained roughly the first hundred pages of a 465-page novel.

I’ve never read anything before by Wally Lamb, but I very well might return to him as an author because his writing is fantastic. I don’t actually know what carried me through this book, but it carried me effortlessly and without ever losing pace. As I mentioned before, the main protagonist, Dolores, is not a likable character for most of the book- like, the first 400 pages or so- and usually my opinion of the main character is closely related to my enjoyment of the book. In this case, there was something that made me continue reading, even when Dolores wasn’t a person I could cheer for.

Here’s another thing: until adulthood, Dolore’s life isn’t very interesting at all. She’s the person that you look away from and pity (or gawk at and tease, if you’re one of the assholes populating her world). What’s impressive, though, is how thoroughly she gets better, to the point that at the end, I really did like her and want her to be happy. I thought she had earned it.

Despite everything, this book is incredibly readable. Every time I had over two minutes to idle before having to worry about something, I would pick this book up and read a page. In the morning, I would stand in front of the stove, spatula in hand, reading as many paragraphs as possible before my pancakes needed to be flipped (hello, alliteration).

A few weeks ago, my friend Shane reviewed this book on his blog, and that’s really what made me go after it. His review gives away more of the plot (he begins with a spoiler warning, but I read it anyway), so if you want to know more, there you are. To be honest, I’ve probably become something of a pest this past week, because every other day I would march into the library and force Shane out of his responsibilities to discuss.

I apologize for the very short review. For more, read Shane’s, or- hey- how about checking it out of the library?

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Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 11:16 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Short reviews are fine. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” A piece can be either long or short. If it’s short and amazing, then it remains amazing. If it’s long and horrible, it gets much worse.

    Anyway, good review, something about this book has piqued my interest for years. Perhaps I’ll pick it up. (Though I feel another Orwell thing coming on.)

  2. I’ve seen this cover everywhere and always thought it would be something deep and philosophical and completely not up my street. Truth be told, this doesn’t sound like something up my street either, but at least you’ve clarified that this isn’t a Plato rewrite šŸ™‚

    One of these days we will find another book that meshes… I mean look, the Hunger Games trilogy pretty much owns my life now. I’m rallying with fans for specific (fanmade) songs to be in the movie soundtrack and am huffing in annoyance about the miscasting (in my opinion) of Cinna.


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