Wednesday, December 1, 2010

She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

I was in about middle school when this book came out, and it was one of the earlier Oprah's Book Club books. I still remember the buzz surrounding it, and I wanted desperately to read it. At that point, I'd read pretty much everything in the house - age appropriate or not - and blazed through lots of the Worcester Public Library's holdings, so I was thrilled when a copy appeared in the house. And then my Mom forbid me to read it.

I'm not sure, in retrospect, whether or not she was right to do so. I don't think it's clearly one way or the other. She's Come Undone is about death and rape and weight and being really messed up and trying to get away from all of that and failing. It's also about realizing that you crushed the few relationships that could have saved you, and about salvaging some of them. I think Mom probably wanted me to postpone reading it because she was afraid I would be upset by all of this, but the reason I'm glad I read it later in life is because I can get so much more out of it now. If I'd read it in middle school, some parts of it might have freaked me out, but I think it's more likely that I simply would have missed a lot of the beauty in the book.

Lamb is great at showing the beauty of error, and I think that's an important skill in writing because it helps you appreciate the full scope of human nature. Dolores Price is a powerful character. Her path through life is really a gradual wearing-down of her resistance to people and to love. What I particularly appreciated was the kind of odd family she eventually collects. It's a wonderful portrait of how rich friendship can be. The funny thing about this is that my Mom is the one who taught me that we have to love the people in our lives fiercely, and that our friends can be as close as family.

1 comment:

  1. I picked up this book, haven't started it yet. What'd your mom say?