She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb
By numbing herself with television and junk food, Dolores Price makes her way through life while hiding, repressing, and ignoring the things she doesn’t want to acknowledge. Or, if she does acknowledge them, she only feels guilt, inadequacy, and failure. Unfortunately, she has a lot of crap to deal with. Following a messy divorce, Dolores finds herself living with her grandmother while her mother has a stay at the mental hospital. She finds her way through school, a personal breakdown, recovery, and her own failed marriage and once more back to stability. Her life is littered with the remnants of broken relationships, unlivable expectations, and personal grief. Afraid of happiness because of the heartbreak it brings when it goes away, she eventually finds her way back to some sense of control, which gives her enough strength to risk her heart again. The limitless depths of her personal strength help her both to survive and even thrive in the midst of insurmountable struggles.
When I told people I was reading this book, I was told it would make me cry. Many times. And it did. This book is thoroughly depressing. As soon as it seems like her life is back on track, something else happens. Personally, I felt it bordered on unbelievable at times because there was so much bad stuff happening back to back, but it also had really strong moments of personal breakthroughs. Maybe that’s the author’s way of moving away from the victim mindset. After all, he traces the life of a single woman from the time when she is a little girl through to middle age – we all go through quite a few changes and life experiences in that time. Some of the word choice felt a little awkward, but it had some great lines in there. I even laughed out loud a few times. He develops so many different characters and brings them all into the story through Dolores, showing how even when we think we have no connection to anyone or anything, we actually do if we look hard enough, or fall far enough that someone needs to pick us back up.
“She’s Come Undone” is an inspiring story showing many of the infinite possibilities for the human spirit to overcome hardship. Just when you think Dolores has lost the ability to overcome (which happens quite a bit), she finds a way to pull herself through. Sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed with all the bad stuff, and at the end of the book, I wasn’t fully satisfied with her happy ending, but it was a great read. It was hard for me to put down, which is always a good sign of a good read. I’d recommend it, but have a box of tissues or someone to hug nearby.