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She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb - Book Review


She's Come Undone
Wally Lamb

Fiction-Net Rating 5 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

In his extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain and renewal. At once a fragile girl and a hard-edged cynic, so tough to love yet so inimitably lovable, Dolores Price is as poignantly real as our own imperfections.

We Say

In the author's note at the end of the book, Wally Lamb tells us that it took him nine years to complete She's Come Undone. It began as a short story, which he then decided to expand into a novel. Wally Lamb almost abandoned it a couple of times but kept returning to the story because he couldn't forget about the character he had created in Dolores Price. In his own words, "I wanted to find out what was going to happen to that troubled soul I had engendered and then grown to love and worry over." This is an important point. It is the love and concern that Lamb has for his main character that makes She's Come Undone such an amazing book.

Dolores' story takes us though her childhood and into her early thirties. It's an epic story and to try and summarise the plot in a few sentences is a tall order. After the break-up of her parents troubled marriage and her mother's mental breakdown, Dolores goes to live with her grandmother. The man living in the upstairs part of the house rapes Dolores when she is thirteen. This triggers a pattern of self-hatred and over eating. Dolores becomes massively overweight. She's Come Undone is the story of her hard-fought road to recovery, mentally and then physically.

Dolores is a compelling character. She is frighteningly believable. As I read her thoughts, I began to wish that I could talk back to her, so that I could try and help her from my privileged position as someone who could see the whole picture. Sometimes I wanted to grab her shoulders, shake her and tell her to stop making things worse for herself. She is so clearly drawn that she almost literally leaps off the page at you. It's a great credit to Wally Lamb that he has created such a strong female character.

As for the plot, there is not any point at which it sags or wanders. The style is beautiful but simple. There are some books that are clever pieces of writing, there are some which are just great yarns and there are some which have charismatic characters. Of course, the best books have all these elements in various measures. She's Come Undone is the full package with full measures of every aspect. It's a complete story and a complete journey, albeit an uncomfortable one at times.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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