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Friday, December 15, 2006

She's Come Undone

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
July 7, 2005

What I've learned through reading other books is that sometimes you need a lot of patience to wait out the author until the book hits its stride. After almost 300 pages I was about to give up on "She's Come Undone", and then the last 165 or so provided a strong finish.

The problem with the first 300 pages was that Dolores was so unpleasant and sedentary that it made reading about her a real chore. I know she came from a broken home and she was raped, but all that did was get me to pity her, and pity only lasts so long. What I kept waiting for was Dolores to get out there and really DO something instead of moping around and thinking everyone hates her. I had high hopes for when she went to college, but the characters there all seemed to be one-dimensional "Animal House" clones and still Dolores was filling her face and feeling sorry for herself instead of doing anything about it.

Then, after she goes to a mental institution, she meets her college roommate's former boyfriend and finally--FINALLY!--things start to get interesting. I guess you could say Dolores finally grows up and starts taking some responsibility and control of her life. By the time she and Dante divorce, even I (a guy), was ready to shout, "You go girl! Kick that loser to the curb!" like the Jerry Springer show. I just wish the Dolores of the last 165 or so pages would have been the same one through the whole book, because it would have made for a better reading experience.

I think a large part of the problem was just that the book was written from Dolores's point-of-view. My biggest problem through those first 300 pages was determining how fat Dolores was. The way she makes it sound at parts it seemed more like she was 300-400 pounds, but later it was said she was only 263-ish tops. I was also confused about when she was fat and if she was fat before being raped. That's one of the limiting things with "I" narration is that it's hard to describe the narrator without it sounding forced. Also, because she hated herself back in her girlhood for those first 300 pages, she didn't present many reasons I as the reader could like her or find her anything but an object of pity. I guess you could say 3rd-person would have been less intimate, but it might have cleared up the confusion and maybe some objectivity would have helped me find some good things inside her early on.

I think if you're willing to plow through those first 300 pages of self-pity, overeating, sarcasm, and angst, you'll find Dolores's redemption in the last act worth the wait. So in the end I liked the book, Oprah liked the book, what more of a recommendation do you need?

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