{completely undone}

Dayzz and dayzz of not reading/blogging. Hello, 2013!

I read Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone over Christmas vacation, so forgive me if my recollection of the book is not super detailed/accurate. SCU is Dolores Price’s first-person narration of her life—from a childhood of divorce, to a preteen rape victim, to a college dropout, to a mental patient, to a wife. It’s a messy, messy story, and not one that I went into (or came out of) lightly.

A friend had earlier compared this book to Augusten Burrough’s Running with Scissors, and while they are of a similar genre (let’s take this chance to coin the term bildungsroman disturbia), my emotional reaction to each was very different, perhaps due to the difference between memoir and fiction. RwS left me shocked, uncomfortable, and majorly questioning my own life boundaries and expectations. While SCU was no less shocking, no less uncomfortable, I finished it feeling gratified.

The difference, I think, was my attitude toward the protagonist. Dolores is no saint, no traditional heroine—in fact, throughout much of the book, she treats the people in her life horrifically. Her decisions made me cringe, her choice of allies terrified me, and her lifestyle was often repellant. Yet her tenacity and frankness caught my loyalty from the start. Throughout all the truly awful s*** in this book, I remained a firm believer in Dolores, a reading experience that’s not easy to overlook. Somehow, Lamb created a powerful and deeply sympathetic character out of disillusionment and pain. It’s something to be aware of before starting this book, I think, but well worth the emotional disturbance of reading it.

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4 responses

  1. That’s a really good point about Dolores not being a saint or a heroine, this bothered me a lot too. I couldn’t feel bad for her because she made choices that made her worse off than before.

    • This was definitely a really interesting one for me to react to, since I tend not to like protagonists whose choices I don’t agree with. I think Lamb just did such a good job of linking the impetus behind Dolores’s actions to her emotional reactions—I was able to understand and sympathize with what she was feeling, even if I didn’t agree with what she was doing.

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