She's Come Undone by Wally LambShe's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

She's Come Undone

byWally Lamb

Mass Market Paperback | June 1, 1998

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In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years.

Meet Dolores Price. She's 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she's determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.
Wally Lamb's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Pushcart Prize XV: Best of the Small Presses; The Best of the Small Presses; The Best of the Missouri Review; Streetsongs 1: New Voices in Fiction; Northeast and The New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction, and is a Missouri Review William Peden fic...
Title:She's Come UndoneFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 6.75 × 4.19 × 1.3 inPublished:June 1, 1998Publisher:Pocket BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0671021001

ISBN - 13:9780671021009

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Intriguing... I think it was a little too long and a little too overhyped.... It was a good story but really not as much as I was expecting
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This is one of my favourites
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from GREAT! I had totally forgot about this book! I came across it again and remembered just how much i loved it! This book is really well written and it is so great and makes you feel every kind of emotion there is. Definately suggest giving it a read.
Date published: 2017-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THE MAIN CHARCTER I heard so many great things about this book that i findally bought it and set down to reading it. I LOVED many ups and downs and funny moments. Thought provoking!!
Date published: 2017-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brutally honest The writing style was more abrupt or frank than the usual prose I'm used to, but it made for a more compelling, honest story. And in that way, it was intriguing. It's also interesting what parts of a book stays with you. For me, it's often the conversations characters have had with each other- poignant or telling. This book was an incredible journey in that it doesn't hold back, not even ugly truths. Highly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read but you'll need kleenex! Great story about a realistic but sad childhood and how the main character works to come to terms with her past and be her true self. I cried so much while reading this book but it was so good! The ending fit the story perfectly!
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So / so I enjoyed this book, intriguing story, well-written but i did not like the ending. Up until that point I was enjoying the book, but the ending was not the best
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional Novel Another masterpiece by Wally Lamb. Painful, hilarious, the characters he creates are candid, harrowing and unlikable. A powerful story that I can't put down, no matter how many times I read it.
Date published: 2017-03-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Depressing This book was so depressing and hard to get through.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from 2 D's Disappointed and Depressing
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not the best This novel is good by most standards but not great for Wally Lamb. This is my least favorite. I find the main character difficult to relate to or sympathize with (although I should be able to feel sympathy for her). Overall it is well written, I just expected more.
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book began my love affair with Wally Lamb I picked this book up when I was a teenager and literally didn't put it down until I finished. I read all night and all morning, I couldn't stop! Highly recommend.
Date published: 2017-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from the best coming of age novel I've read this book 4 times, that's how incredible it's beautiful, heartbreaking and brilliant. A MUST READ.
Date published: 2017-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I loved this book so much when I originally read it years ago that I plan to reread it. An excellent read!!!
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ok good character but i didn't care much for the writing
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful! i read this book for the first time when i was 14 years old. i am now 35 and it is still one of my favorites.
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for me Despite the rave reviews I have heard on this book, I didn't like it. I thought the main character was a horrible person and honestly couldn't stand her. The writing was good writing - I just hated the story
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible My mom introduced this book to me and it is one of my favourite novels of all time, by one of my favourite authors. This novel is so beautifully written, rarely have I connected with a character on such a deep level. This story speaks so eloquently to experiences, that sadly, many women can relate to, is so emotionally raw and beautiful and is an absolute must read. I recommend it to everyone I know.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from * Loved this book, very well written.
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my faves Emotional and well written, great story! You really start to feel like you know the main character and feel for her. Love all his books
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A classic Well written and enjoyable read.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging, Heartbreaking, Cathartic, Wonderful I'm amazed at how a middle-aged man (Wally Lamb was 46 when he wrote this) can so deftly and clearly voice the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of a 13-year-old girl. I have read and re-read this book at different points in my life and it never fails to engage me mentally and emotionally. Very well written, an incredible story, interesting characters - what more could you want in a novel? #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good! Read this in HS the first time and remembered that it was good. Re-read this in my 30s and it's still good.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My first foray in Wally Lamb... and I've never looked back An amazing book, and amazing author. I've re-read this book multiple times, and each time I discover something I didn't know, or have forgotten, or didn't get the first time. Just amazing that it's written, by a man.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great what a great book! hard to put down
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This Book Is Ridiculous I couldn't get over the fact that some of the things that happened in this book were just plain ridiculous and insane. The book comes with the promise that you will never forget Dolores Price, and that is so true- she was by far the weirdest protagonist ever and not in a good way. I couldn't pity her. The authors writing style is really good (reasoning for 2 stars) and I did enjoy some things, but overall... this book was so incredibly weird I wouldn't recommend it.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from remarkable I first read this book in high school, not much for reading but this I can read again & again. Blows my mind that a man was able to write from a woman's point of view, able to write her pain, anger, sorrow and happiness. Good job Mr. Lamb
Date published: 2015-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my Top 5 books I have read this book twice and I rarely am able to do that. From the moment I got to know Delores I could not put the book down. I laughed out loud, became slightly depressed, sometimes grossed out and even cried. The descriptive writing pulls you into the world inside the book, one in which you don't want to go to sleep in case you miss something. I have always recommended this book and often bought it for others. I have read all of Wally's fiction and with the exception of Wishin' and a Hoping, got dragged into all his literature and enjoyed every moment.
Date published: 2014-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from She's Come Undone Love the writing, a really engaging story.
Date published: 2013-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She's Come Undone I have read this book twice and am thinking of reading it again. It made me laugh, cry and think. Delores Price is someone you won't ever forget. HIGHLY recommend!
Date published: 2013-10-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting read The book dragged at times but I still wouldn't put it down... I enjoyed it enough that I plan on reading more from this author.
Date published: 2012-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from "good" received a ton of books for christmas. i decided to choose this one to start off my reading frenzy. always heard people buzzing about this book. i've never read a book where the protagonist is depressed extremely overweight. this is exactly the point that drew my interest. no more slim, athletic and attractive leader let's here a story from someone who is real. meet dolores price this book is moving, depressing, shocking and exciting. you will cry and cheer for dolores' life. the author is excellent at being the voice of young woman. good story to get into, easy read and a lot of emotions will run through you. i couldn't wait to get to the end to see where her life would take her.
Date published: 2012-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprised by how much I loved it! I really did not like the book throughout most of the first half and I did not think that I would finish the book. I had trouble "digesting" the main character, Dolores. However, at some point, I cannot pinpoint it, I became truly engrossed and I began to love the main character. I was sucked in, and I couldn't bear to put the book down. I'm so glad I stuck with this book.
Date published: 2011-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal. Wally Lamb writes amazingly. He manages to portray the darker side of humanity with such ease and incredibility that he can make you want to laugh. cry, and feel disgusted all at the same time. He is a one-of-a-kind author.
Date published: 2010-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating ... hard to put down! Interesting read that kept you captivated at all times.. This was my first book by Wally Lamb and I loved it and inpired to read more by him. His descriptions are detailed and make the reader feel the intensity of the moment, emotion and experience.
Date published: 2010-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from it's a must read!! Wally Lamb is like no other. I could not wait to see the fate of poor Delores. Could not stop reading. So well written that I felt her pain a little to much.
Date published: 2009-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How can I express how much I love this book? I have read many books over the years but nothing hits me like this one. It is truely incredible. If you have not read it then I advise you go out and buy it.
Date published: 2009-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from She's Come Undone This novel was really emotional. It's about a girl who lives an unfortunate childhood, where her parents divorce and she gets raped. The book shows how someone can let themself go without caring much for their lives and how little and big events shape us into who we are. In the future, she learns to move on and she tries to make the best of her life.
Date published: 2009-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully Written... An absolutely brilliant novel by Wally Lamb. It was a privilege to read such a beautiful work of art, and the author has quickly become one of my favorites. His talent at writing dark fiction literature will leave readers around the world breathless as they wait for him to create further near-genius works.
Date published: 2009-02-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Depressingly Funny This book will make you laugh and make you cry. The story of Dolores; a teenage girl who goes through sooo much on her way to adulthood is both a delightful and depressing read.
Date published: 2009-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Where are the rest of Wally Lamb's novels? Isn't that always the way; you find an author that you absolutely love and they only write 2 books!
Date published: 2008-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It, Loved It, LOVED IT! This was such a great book. It was so well written that I actually had to refer to the back several times to make sure it really was a man that wrote this book. He writes so on key about a woman and her feelings, you'd swear he experienced the very same thing himself. A heartbreaking story, with incredibly memorable characters, I love, love LOVED every page of this book!
Date published: 2008-09-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent Considering how much I loved I Know This Much Is True, She's Come Undone seemed a bit of a disappointment to me. The events in this woman's life certainly are tragic, but it was hard to sympathize for her because of her constant bad attitude and negativity.
Date published: 2008-07-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a rollercoaster of emotions! It starts off sort of slow.... for several chapters, then picks up and when it does... theres no stopping it! The main character Dolores Price has so many issues, which makes for an entertaining read but it's very sad and depressing because, although its fiction, I'm sure it's someones memoir. Dolores is likable... but quite often I found myself getting annoyed with a "friend" sort of way... because she keeps getting herself into situations that are obviously going to end badly. It ends on a great note though!
Date published: 2008-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pretty good! recently finished reading She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It’s a story about a pre-teen who struggles to deal with her family falling apart, getting raped at the tender age of thirteen and a multitude of so many other issues that make her life crazy or better yet make her go crazy She deals with her problems by obesity, sexual ambiguity, self-delusion, and madness. But it is a story of perseverance. A lesson to show you that no matter what happens normal will find you if you work on it hard enough. I loved the book, it was a page turner and I often ditched my train buddies so I can read it. So go buy it, take it out of the library, borrow it from a friend just read it already!
Date published: 2008-06-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So Emotional If you're in the market for an emotionally draining novel, this one should be at the top of the list. It can be tough to get through all the dramatic moments, and despite what the cover says about the great humour in the novel, those bits are often far apart. As a whole, though, I did like the novel. I love that this is essentially a coming-of-age story where it doesn't conveniently happen in the protagonists teens. There's a line in the story somewhere where Dolores says the she guesses everyone is crazy in their own way, and I can't help but think that was entirely the best line to describe the novel.
Date published: 2008-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I loved this book. It envelops you. It is so in touch with a women's emotions that I was honestly very surprised to see that it was written by a man. It is a book you read... then re read..... it's that good.
Date published: 2008-01-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Reviews The book was OK. Definitely not one of my favourite books. I struggled to get through some portions of the book because they were just plain boring. I liked that the book wasn't overly predictable, but there were certain portions that definitely could have been shortened or left out altogether.
Date published: 2007-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book This is an amazing book. The writing is wonderful, the characters seem so real you feel you know them and you get a real feel for the place and time. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Definately my TOP 1 of all time This book is profound. It amazes me that a man wrote so tenderly and truthfully about the growth, both physically and emotionally, from young girl to woman. Infact, I bought the book based on it's cover. I thought it was beautiful and mysterious. What a serendipidous surprise to read it and find out that it was indeed a fabulous book and I had chosen the cover properly. I've lent it out many times, and it is so good, that it has always come back in excellent condition. Read's worth it!
Date published: 2007-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wonderful I think the character was developed beautifully. The book spoke to me in many ways since it paralleled my life in so many ways. A must read for everyone.
Date published: 2006-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I have probably read the book a good 6 or 7 times by now and every time it amazes me. The way the author (being a male) captures the struggles of a young girl who is trying to grow in such an unhealthy, yet realistic world. I really can't put into words how strongly i relate to Dolores. It is definatly something every young woman should get a chance to read, not just once....but 7 times lol
Date published: 2006-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from gave me butterflies! You want to cry, yell at, and comfort the main character. As I try to understand this person throughout the story I find it hopeless...she is so completley her own person.
Date published: 2006-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read! I really enjoyed this book. Some authors have the ability to get right into their characters mind and make them truly believable. I'm shocked that a man wrote this book about a girl/woman. Delores' experiences and thoughts seemed so believable. I've since picked up "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb. I'm looking forward to an equally satisfying read.
Date published: 2006-07-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I missed the boat I read this book after hearing rave reviews about it. However, I have to say, I was unable to connect to any of the characters in this book. I didn't find that it describes women accurately at all and I was deeply disturbed by some of the things characters in the book did, such as the fact that when Delores was violated, nothing was done to help her. I don't necessary think this was a bad book, I just feel that I had no way of identifying with any of the characters in the novel, thus the point and symbolism was lost on me. The writer does have a very good writing style and does an excellent job of making you feel like you're right there with the characters throughout the novel. His descriptions are incredible and sometimes even too vivid. Although I couldn't identify with anything that happened in the novel, I think many women and men will appreciate this unorthodox look at a woman's life.
Date published: 2006-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Would read it again A great book! I couldn't put it down. It is about a girl whose life experiences cause her true emotional turmoil. Well, we all experience that, right? But the narrator, Dolores, is funny, witty and likeable. I think we can all see ourselves in her. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2006-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Amazing! I enjoyed this book from the very first page to the very last. I can't believe from a male perspective the author got so many things bang on. At points in the book I felt as though I was reading about myself. This book was an absolute page turner, every moment I had, I spent reading this, to see what was going to happen next. Bravo! Wally Lamb.
Date published: 2006-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favorite Book Not many books I read over again, but this one I did. She's Come Undone was so enjoyable that I couldn' put it down. It was hard to believe it was written by a man. Wally Lamb is so in tune to women's inner truth it was mind boggling. I loved this book the first time and second time around. I praise Wally Lamb for his work.
Date published: 2006-06-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Crap This book totally mocks women and I don't know why anyone hasn't recognized that. If you could identify with this book, therapy would probalby be a good idea. There are some really twisted chapters, especially the part where the woman makes out with a whale. I had friends take this book away from me because it was making me depressed. Read something like "Bridget Jones" instead and put the Paxil away.
Date published: 2006-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Amazing!!! I absolutely adored this book. I loved the character Dolores...she was great. It really gets you drawn in as if you were actually part of the book. I hated putting it down....I just wanted to keep reading. I think coming from a guy it was amazing how he could write such an amazing book from a female was very well done. Its a very emotional hits on all kinds of things that women go through growing up...Im sure many people can relate to different parts of this book. Although I have never had a weight problem it really makes you understand what it is like to be overweight and why some people end up that way. I highly recommend this won't be disappointed at all.
Date published: 2006-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Two thumbs up! After reading all of the reviews posted, I decided to buy this book, and I am very happy that I did. It's an incredible read, following the life of the main character through her worst and best moments. It really makes you think and consider your own life and the decisions you have made. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone.
Date published: 2006-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Was so great I couldnt put it down..I finished it in 5 days! I was very surprise how well the male author was able to capture the thoughts and feelings of a woman. I laughed, I cried. A very touching book. I recommend it to all!
Date published: 2005-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME! This book is simply amazing. Discustingly descriptive in the best possible way. I LOVED IT!
Date published: 2005-11-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Doo doo op I also liked this book, it's a good book about a person... But I picked it up expecting a great feminine energy heroine and all being in the mood for that sort of thing at the time. That's not what it is, it's about human triumph which is good, but it seems the author tries to make it all about female stuff, and the journey from girlhood to womanhood in the beginning... to appeal to us I suppose. But seeing as he's a man, I think he should have steered clear of talking about first periods and budding breasts and nipples looking like tootsie rolls he just embarasses himself...I feel. Other than that I liked it.
Date published: 2005-09-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from wtvv ok i was forced to read this book for summer reading during high school...I found it was ok nothing special..maybe i missed the point of the book and the symbolism with the whale...all i have to say is that it was like porn in a book and too graphic...i didn't really find it that touching.
Date published: 2005-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put it Down!!! This book was amazing! I couldn't put it down. Dolores was hilarious. The story line was very well written. The book had both a serious and funny side to it. I enjoyed every single page of this book. It is definately a must read!
Date published: 2005-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favourite Book of All Times! I absolutely love this book and every essence of it. Wally Lamb paints a perfectly real and believable character through Dolores, yet it is somehow impossible not to love her. It is such an empowering story of a young woman's triumph over the many tradgedies in her life and it will bring you up, down and back up again. Once I got into it, I could not put the book down! I found myself reading it every spare moment I got. I love Wally Lamb's work, and I highly suggest reading I Know This Much Is True as well. These are two books that just can't be topped!
Date published: 2004-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing I think this book should be manditory to read through highschool I think it would give kids a better look on life and let them know that they aren't alone.
Date published: 2004-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For every woman, and their male counter-parts This is by far the best book I've ever read. I lent it out and never got it back. I recently bought it again, and read it again. I am saving it for my daughter when she is old enough to read it (although we read some of it together already) It is amazing that a man wrote have to keep going to the cover and reminding yourself of that. You will never forget Delores because you will feel that she is now part of your life. I have always wanted to tell Mr. Lamb how much I appreciate this book. Read I know this much is true as well, you will LOVE IT!! It's nothing at all like this one, Wally Lamb is a man of many faces!!
Date published: 2004-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book! My friend told me to read this book a month ago and I cannot believe that I waited all this time to do it. This book was a surprise to me. It was really good. At first, I asked, How can a man right about a girl's life? Later, I found myself amazed at how he captured Dolores' character (of course, not everything about the female gender), but it was really good. This book makes you asks questions, even days after you've read it. It definitely is not a read-and-forget kind of book. Dolores became real to me while I as reading this book. The reader would feel sad, happy, disgusted whenever Dolores feels sad, happy and disgusted. It is an emotional roller coaster ride with her the whole time. Everyone, I think, can relate to it in different levels. Read it everyone!
Date published: 2003-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING! I don't know how many times i've read this book, but I enjoy reading it every time I do. The best book I've ever read :)
Date published: 2003-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She's come undone Awesome book. Easy to read and still written beautifully. I felt that I accompanied Dolores through her painful adolescence. I loved the symbolism in this book.
Date published: 2003-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic! this book is absolutely wonderful and i would sugesst it to any one! just by reading it you would never know it's written by a man. when doloris feels you feel. when you read this book you'll just wanna bawl
Date published: 2003-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from i just couldn't put it down! This book was amazing; the characters seem so, real/believable. This book was very touching about the life of a girl coming of age, living though life’s insults. This book was very well put. Just to tell people before reading it I found it to be very slow paced; also this is because this book is about life so she is always jumping back from her past to where she is now. Most of the women in my family have read this, and they all enjoyed it. Especially me, I would recommend to anyone.
Date published: 2003-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great You won't be able to put it down. A great read
Date published: 2003-07-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from it wasnt what i expected. it was okay, had a lot of traumatized illustrations to make a good book and the writer's style is actually very, very good. but it wasn't something i would read again. it didnt inspire me or teach me anything. it was more of a coming out book.
Date published: 2003-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book I've actually read this book twice, and both times I couldn't put it down. You'd never know that the author is actually male, which actually surprises almost anyone. Great read and would recommand it to anyone. Definetly one of my favorite reads!!
Date published: 2003-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good I truly enjoyed this book, and lent it to all my friends who haven't heard of it. But I must say it comes nowhere close to I Know This Much is True and despite many people saying he was wonderful at writing the life of a women so convincingly I tend to disagree, I find it is unrealistic that a woman with many problems finds herself after meeting a man. I actually find it a dangerous message to get across, but it definitely brought up great debate among my friends and family.
Date published: 2002-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It!! I really enjoyed this book. I think it was beautifully written and the characters are very believable. I will read it again and again...
Date published: 2002-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book of all time This is by far the best book that I have ever read. Once you pick up this book, you will never want to put it down. It takes you through the life of an intruiging character with whom you can empathize and connect. The fact that this book was written by a man blows my mind. I can't even describe in words how good this was. You have to read it for yourself.
Date published: 2002-06-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Little Disappointing for one of Oprah's picks! This novel, truely had a strong interesting plot. I felt compelled to keep flipping the pages whenever I had time between homework, studying for tests, and my job. Although the story line was interesting and eye-opening, I felt that the author did not capture the essence of a woman's point of view.
Date published: 2002-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Strangely triumphant... Lamb managed to capture feelings I thought were known only to me, and with such precision, I was left shaken at times. Those thoughts we fear others ever discovering, Lamb puts on paper. His character Delores is as real as I am-tragically, comically, and in the end, triumphantly human. Sadly, the events of her life Delores recounts are not uncommon, but they are unique to her, and the feeling with which Lamb has crafted this novel is what makes the story of an average, anybody into an extraordinary read.
Date published: 2002-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Enjoyed I really enjoyed Wally Lamb's portrayal of Dolores. There were times when I wanted to slap her upside the head and yell at her for not getting her act together. At the same time, I could relate to her woe is me attitude that when things are really bad, you think things will never get better. At points, I did think that things would never get any better for her, and she had so many missed opportunities that could have turned her life around. I think this was one of the reasons that I couldn't put the book down, I wanted to see how it would all turn out in the end for someone whose life never seemed to go right.
Date published: 2002-02-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Woman with an Unbreakable Spirit Dolores Price is the heroine in this novel. She has had a difficult life in that her father is a liar who eventually deserts the family, her mother has a nervous breakdown and her grandmother never knew how to show her any love. Dolores moves on with her life despite the mishaps of her home life but she encounters a lot of users and abusers...especially when it comes to the men in her life. Fortunately she is not a quitter and refuses to give up hope that her life will turn out to be the best it can be for her. She never loses her sense of humor throughout all of the ordeals. She inspires all of us to never give up on life or love. This is the first book I've read by Wally Lamb but it will not be my last. I have "I Know This Much Is True" on my To Be Read list.
Date published: 2001-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Most Powerful Book I've Ever Read. Im not one to pick up any book and just read it. The book has to be one with substance and meaning. It has to capture my emotions and make me prosper spiritually or emotionally from reading it. A perfect example of this is She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb. The story of Dolores is a story like none Ive ever thought possible. I've lived her life. The life of constant terrorism from peers. Its a life that will either make you stronger or break you done. This book explains every aspect of what I, along with many others have gone through and continue to. She's taken on this emotional roller coaster that captures your emotions and makes you almost understand her. While I read this book, I cried, I laughed, I was depressed for her. Dolores Price became my friend, became me. This book is like no other and if there was one book I suggest someone who is looking for an insightful and breath-taking book, this is it. I wish I could tell Wally Lamb how much of an impact this made on my life. But because I cant, I will tell you. Read this book and grow.
Date published: 2001-04-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Hard to read with lunch I found this book to be troubling yet I couldn't put it down. I thought the girl was pathetic (are there people really like this?). I usually like to read during lunch at work, but it was making me lose my appetite. I didn't find this book enjoyable, but like I said "I couldn't put it down".
Date published: 2001-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She's come undone This just may be one of the best books that I have ever read.The author, Wally Lamb writes so profoundly in the the voice and head of a teenage girl that it is hard to believe that this book is written by a man. His understanding of the character Dolores, and her emotional battles is something that I would see a woman writing about, not a man, but Wally Lamb can write so convincinly, you'd think that the character Dolores, wrote it herself.This book is funny, sad, heart-breaking and refreshing all at once. As a young woman develops she has to deal with enough insecurities, nevermind thinking about her looks and weight. I learned so much about my own insecurities and it gave me a new understanding of why we all have them. I loved this book and recomend it to anyone, especially women. This book shows how amazing and effective your frame of mind is, and how much your oppinions of yourself can affect the way the world sees you. READ IT!!!!!
Date published: 2001-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Doesn't get better than this! I'm not a real big reader, however a friend of mine recommended that I read "She's come undone". Am I ever glad she did! This book explains and explores the beauty and honesty of being a young woman. What the character goes through is not always the most pleasant experiences but Wally Lamb created one amazing woman. This is a book I think every young woman should read. Enjoy!
Date published: 2001-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The book of strength This novel has brought a new meaning of strength and determination. Showing that a thirteen year old girl can do anything. Showing that women are equal if not the stronger sex, fighting and overcoming obstacles in this way. This novel should be read by every man showing them how really capable all women are. This novel was trully brilliant!
Date published: 2001-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Christmas Gift All Around When I first began to read this novel it was more or less forced upon me. In the beginning I felt obligated to read such a sappy story, however, in the end I couldn't read fast enough. I have encouraged everyone around me to pick this book up and enjoy the story behind Dolores' life. Not only have I passed this book around, but I've made sure it has made it under the tree for many of my family and friends. This novel has changed my outlook on many different aspects in life, and I doubt I'll ever find a better story.
Date published: 2000-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An intimate look into the Soul! I have never read a book with so much feeling and in-depth emotion that made me sick, happy and emotional for a week after completing this book. In retrospect, I would have read this book, a chapter at a time, each chapter three times instead of gluing myself to the pages for an entire weekend until the book was completed. It is such a phenomenal story and thought that, I have gone out and bought another copy to give to each of my dear friends and family. Just the thought that this novel was written by a male and that the connotaions of the story are from the female point of view, are incredible. What a masterpiece!
Date published: 2000-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good book I've read two of Wally Lamb's books now and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and couldn't put the book down.
Date published: 2000-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Flying Leg I have a letter that I never sent to Wally Lamb thanking him for expressing the feelings of a woman who would otherwise be considered average, troubled, unworthy, and lost. Dolores is every woman - your mother, your sister, your aunt or you. At the same time as I began reading "She's Come Undone", I sought out help during an intense time of soul-searching. In the process of MY coming undone, I used Wally Lamb's portrayal of Dolores as inspiration for a series of Lithographs. Serving as a theraputic activity, I exorcised personal demons, and turned my own experiences into positive and creative expressions of hopefulness. I never sent the letter to Wally Lamb, but continue to be inspired by "She's Come Undone", citing it as my inspiration whenever my artwork touches someone else.
Date published: 2000-09-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wally Lamb's book I thought this book was an interesting but not a spectacular read. I found it odd that a man wrote this book because it really reads like it was written by a woman. Nevertheless the book is very long (it spans some 30 years of Dolores' life). The young girl grows up plagued with many problems, has trouble coping and ends up making a mess of her life; eventually things get better but only after she finds the right man. The highlight of the story was that her unfortunate life got better, but why only after she met that man?!? Despite the fact that there were were male villians in the story, this book seems to have brought out an extreme liberated and feministic side of me. Probably because it was written by a man and portrays this broken woman being made whole again by Mr. Right - a very chauvinistic ideal. Anyway, that is my opinion; accept it or reject it.
Date published: 2000-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I couldn't put it down! You would never guess that the writer is a adult male. Dolores is one of the most convincing characters ever written. Although it is a heartbreaking story it is full of insight and life lessons. A definte must read!
Date published: 2000-08-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from She's come Undone I really enjoyed reading this book. I think there's a little bit of Dolores in all women. I found that I was examining my own life while I was reading about Dolores. I think it's wonderful that a man wrote this book. He was good at capturing what women would think and do in various situations.
Date published: 2000-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She's Come Undone..has made me come undone. Well I'm almost finished reading this book and I'm really ejoying it. I see that some don't feel the same and because of my barely glimpsing some other critic has ruined a part I have not yet come to. Well I'm enjoying it and this is from a person(myself I'm referring to) whom would only clamp there mind on literature from Clive Barker and John Saul solely. My becoming undone from such negative,frightening,and often unbelievable aspects of those books makes me applaud all of Oprah's picks. I am in no way dissappointed in my choice.
Date published: 2000-07-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from One of the worst I've ever picked up. I must admit, after watching an episode of "Oprah" and her bookclub, I rushed out to buy this book. "Hey," I thought, "Oprah wouldn't lie if she say's it's an amazing book." Wally Lamb did not develop the character or any character in the novel. I think the attraction many people have to the book is the surprises and the suspense they get from that. Bad things would happen to the character one after the other until I wasn't surprised anymore. These events weren't created by Wally Lamb to develop the character(s). It was an attempt to get some people to continue reading on. Too many outrageous things happened by chance (ex. Her moving into the same apartment as Dante's? Just by chance?) to make it believeable. This novel reminds me of the pre-teen thriller novels that my little cousin reads. You know, the R.L Stine like books that don't serve any purpose but to surprise you over and over. Just because a novel is capable of giving you surprises over and over dosen't make it a good novel. It makes it a cheap thrill that you read as a last resort.
Date published: 2000-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book has travelled I read this book last summer and as I read it I told some friends and family about it. Since I have finished it I have not had it in my home. It has travelled from London to the Sault and back, then to Sudbury and back, even my hairdresser has read it. I hope who ever see's this book on the shelf picks it up and reads it. It is the best book i have read in my 42 years.
Date published: 2000-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She's captured me I was left breathless after reading this book, I had no time to breath, I was too busy delving into this amazing story. True or not it is an inspiring heroic story that will leave you appreciating everything you have and pushing you to not let anything stop you from reaching your happiness. I was mainly impressed with Wally's ability to capture the spirit of a true woman/girl in all the right ways. I reccomend this book to anyone who think they've got it bad.
Date published: 2000-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This book was one of the best that I have ever read. I picked it up and I couldn't put it down. I recommend it to everyone because it deals with reality and life. Beware: some disturbing topics.
Date published: 2000-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 'Relating' I am a sixteen year old female who's gone through hell and high water over the past six years. Whether it was struggling with myself, my family, or the world around that effects me mentally and physically on so many levels. I first read this novel about two or three years ago, in the midst of all my life-changing obstacles. My mother had started reading it, but never finished, so I decided to take a shot at it. I think that the cover was actually what drew me towards the book. Being the same age as the the main character, as well as the fact that Mr.Lamb writes like a young woman would, I could with no doubt relate to all the trials and tribulations that Dolores must overcome. I think the factor that most allowed me to relate to Dolores, is how she was indirectly forced to grow up much too quickly. Some of the events in the novel are drastic and somewhat unbelievable, yet at the same time, understandable and necessary. In conclusion, this is a fabulous story, in which to open up a door to those who never really had to deal with such harsh realities.
Date published: 2000-07-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing! This is a book that, once picked up, cannot be put down. "She's Come Undone" is a beautifully written story, though I thought the ending seemed a bit rushed. The character development in this novel is fantastic, but I wouldn't recommend the book to very many people- the issues it deals with are often quite sensitive.
Date published: 2000-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm Impressed This book was amazing. Although parts are disturbing, Dolores is a truly believable character. Wally Lamb's novel was amazing, and struck a chord with me.
Date published: 2000-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This was an excellent book. I read it a few years ago and I couldn't put it down, I read it in one night. It amazed me that Lamb could put himself in the position of a woman and tell the story so honestly. The rebirthing scenario was kind of 'far-fetched', but the continuous chain of events that occured in the novel made up for it
Date published: 2000-04-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Out There I thought this book was a little bit too different for my taste. Deloris annoyed me, although I was impressed with the male author's ability to be so intune with a female.
Date published: 2000-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Read!! This book was recommended to me by a friend and he said that it was excellent. I had a hard time believing him because he has suggested bad books in the past. I read it and found it to be excellent especially since it is held in a female tone by a male author. I think for those who enjoyed this book will also enjoy the book "The World According to Garp" by John Irving. It follows the same tone where it leads you through the life of the main character, from beginning to end. She's Come Undone is really worth reading...over and over again!
Date published: 2000-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She's Come Undone Dolores's character is so familiar to many of us that when i read this book some events were as if they were taken out of my life. This is a book worth reading. It takes a night to read it but it will take an eternity to forget.
Date published: 2000-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down... This may sound incredibly cliche, but I literally did laugh, cry and go through the whole range of human emotion. This book is truly entertaining and would recommend it only to those who possess an empathetic side as Dolores does put you through a lot!! Loved it...
Date published: 2000-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It kept me guessing I liked the concept of following a woman's life from the age of 4 to 40. I also thought the author succeeded in writing in a woman's perspective. It was hard for me to imagine that the "young" Dolores and the "old" Dolores were the same person. She really developed and change. I felt sorry for her at the beginning. There were so many characters in this book that I had to keep refering back and checking to see who they really were. There were so many characters that I hated in this book! (Jack, Dante and sometimes even her grandmother!). This book is interesting because it dealt with a lot of different events and it had me wondering what could possibly happen next, it surprised me everytime, yet I shouldn't be.
Date published: 2000-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best I'm a 17 year old female and could not believe how good this book was. At first when it was reccommended to me i didn't want to read it thinking how good can it be if Operah reccommends it. I was delightfully suprised, once i started reading i couldn't put the book down, and I am not one that likes to read. I finished it the day after i started it. It's definitely a book that everyone should read. I'll never forget this book that is for sure.
Date published: 1999-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from one word : GREAT! This book is a great book. I don't normally read, but i could not put the book down. I got right into it. I felt Dolores' emotions throughout her life...and the big stunner was that a male wrote it. It is a really good book.
Date published: 1999-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible I must say, that as a young woman I found this book to be one of the best I've ever read. I had never heard of it when I bought it in the airport on the way to Barbados to read on the beach. From the moment I picked this book up, I could not put it down, and even with the waves beckoning me, the hypnotic effect of Mr. Lamb's writing kept me glued to my chair for three days. It is truly a masterpiece.
Date published: 1999-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best.... I got right into this story. I could not believe how well written it was especially from a male writer. It was as if he could really understand a woman's personal tragedy. I have read a lot of novels but I have to admit that this one kept me captivated. I laughed, I cried, I related to everything going on in Delore's life. A must read for anyone looking for realistic and heartwarming fiction.
Date published: 1999-11-15
Date published: 1999-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb!!! I don't understand how anyone could laugh at Dolores' troubles. I had so much sympathy for this character, throughout all her ordeals. Wally Lamb is an excellent author. Dolores Price is realistic in every possible way. Only a tremendous writer could deliver such a touching story.
Date published: 1999-10-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Ho hum! I had heard from several people that this was a wonderful book. That Wally Lamb had been able to capture the voice of a female with amazing accuracy. I have to admit that when I read it I found it to be a big disappointment. I found the story to lag quite regularly and as for Wally Lamb's insight into the female psyche, I would hope that most females are not so one dimensional or self-absorbed. I did feel enormous sympathy for the young Delores, but I found that as she aged that sympathy faded until it finally disappeared and all I was left with was a feeling of annoyance.
Date published: 1999-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unrealistic??? This is a response to the several readers that stated that Dolores's experiences were unrealistic -- perhaps in your own world, such pain and tragedy are foreign. Do not presume that since it does not exist in your life it cannot exist elsewhere. The purpose of reading books like this is to open your eyes to the pain of others, and learn from it, not deny it. Wally Lamb has given me a greater insight to the world around us -- as an author, there is no greater accomplishment.
Date published: 1999-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! When I heard about She's Come Undone I didn't think I'd be interested. Then one of my friends told me that it was the best book she'd ever read, that it was her life written out on paper. When I started to read it I was hooked, I have never felt such compassion for a character in a novel before, but I laughed and cried and cheered Dolores on as she went through the trials of life. It made me feel so much better about my life to know that I didn't have to go through the things that this poor girl did. Sometimes it takes a book like this to bring our lives into perspective. It is definitley one of the best books I've read in a long time and I would recommend it to anyone, male or female.
Date published: 1999-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moving This book caught my eye because of the interesting title and cover art. Who among us hasn't felt as if they are "coming undone?" One reviewer on this site wrote that he thinks Dolores (he spelled it incorrectly) was not a hero (or heroine in this case) because she was too passive. The girl had no self esteem and felt responsible for the deaths of people she cared about. Whenever she was assertive it caused grief to those around her. Of course she was passive, almost pathetic and I think we can all relate to her on some level. No one has had a perfect life and no one is secure about every facet of their personality. I am impressed by the roundness of the characters and the depth of feeling in this story. It is well written and almost impossible to put down.
Date published: 1999-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intriguing I thought that Mr.Lamb did a good job writing this book. It was well told, and had me reading it 24-7. The book, as it mentioned in the "praise" section, kept me flipping back to the cover to check if the author was really a man. It was interesting that Mr.Lamb was able to follow a woman's life from childhood to adulthood. Again, as in my rating, I thought that this book was good, but it could have been a little bit better. Delores had an unrealistic life, it was so unbelievable at times, that one woman could have such a terrible life and experiences at such a young age. Overall, the book was intriguing with a twist of Delores' witty personality. I would reccomend this book for mature readers.
Date published: 1999-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best This is one of the best books I have ever read. I think that everyone can relate to this book in some way. A MUST read!!
Date published: 1999-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent wasn't disappointed by all the hype about this book i've read in years. for a couple of days, the characters became a part of my's been so long since a character has held my attention and sympathies the way dolores did.
Date published: 1999-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent! A really enjoyable read. I thought about Delores everyday for a week after I finished. In a word, fabulous.
Date published: 1999-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! First of all, I'd like to say that I can't believe this book is written by a man! However, Lamb did a terrific job. I honestly could not put the book down and it was only a matter of a few days before I finished it. I do have to say that I was a little disappointed with the ending - it was sort of sappy. But overall, an amazing journey through an unbelievable life.
Date published: 1999-06-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad, but not great As a male, I thought that I wouldn't enjoy reading about a young woman's weight problems. Surprisingly, I was wrong. It was an interesting read, but the story line was unrealistic. Overall, an enjoyable way to spend a rainy aftrenoon.
Date published: 1999-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disturbing & Captivating It's understood that readers who don't find this book captivating, to say the least, haven't had life experiences that almost plunge them over the edge. This book invites the reader to feel/understand the pain some children are forced to suffer through. The heroine in this book certainly is to be pitied in some respects, but she was definately a victim of circumstances. As well, she certainly came through all that life threw at her and learned from the experiences. I couldn't put this down and I continually tried to set aside time to be the voyeur in her life. Best read in a long time!
Date published: 1999-06-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Did I miss something? I'm not sure if I missed something or not. Oprah raved about this book, as did many of the readers. I thought it would be the perfect book for my vacation. Instead I spent my vacation laughing as friends and I predicted what rediculous move Dolores would make next. We laughed even more when her life plans made from a psychiatric home were unrealisticly turned into her reality. Overall, a disappointment.
Date published: 1999-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unforgettable Dolores Price...unforgettable. I think there's probably a bit of her in everybody: that's what makes her so real, vulnerable, worthy and decent. Wally Lamb's account of her growth (physical and emotional), of her tribulations, her humanity, her loneliness, her wanting, her anger and hurt is both touching, funny, and disturbing. Dolores becomes your friend: you come to hate the people who hurt her, and love the people who by their simple actions, their faith in her and love for her, help her undo some of the damage done to her in her childhood. You'll never forget Dolores Price.
Date published: 1999-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites I absolutely loved this book!! I've read it twice and I could not put it down. It is so touching and you can't believe how in tune you are with her and what she's going through. Truly amazing!
Date published: 1999-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Grasping I started reading knowing nothing about the book, but when I finished I felt like the I was part of the story. It is writtin in a manner that brings you into it completly. I found myself crying and laughing.
Date published: 1999-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching This novel was really a great capture the heart type of novel that I felt I could really relate too. Even guys are reading this novel, it's a great book.
Date published: 1999-02-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from She's Come Undone This book was written by a man, but he clearly understands Dolores Price's cravings for potato chips and mallomars. Dolores could be the girl next door as she travels through her life of love and pain, and rises to an occasion of one more chance. She is real and a true comical heroine. I enjoyed the book.
Date published: 1998-12-03

Read from the Book

1 IN ONE OF MY EARLIEST MEMORIES, MY MOTHER AND I ARE ON the front porch of our rented Carter Avenue house watching two delivery men carry our brand-new television set up the steps. I’m excited because I’ve heard about but never seen television. The men are wearing work clothes the same color as the box they’re hefting between them. Like the crabs at Fisherman’s Cove, they ascend the cement stairs sideways. Here’s the undependable part: my visual memory stubbornly insists that these men are President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon.Inside the house, the glass-fronted cube is uncrated and lifted high onto its pedestal. “Careful, now,” my mother says, in spite of herself; she is not the type to tell other people their business, men particularly. We stand watching as the two delivery men do things to the set. Then President Eisenhower says to me, “Okay, girlie, twist this button here.” My mother nods permission and I approach. “Like this,” he says, and I feel, simultaneously, his calloused hand on my hand and, between my fingers, the turning plastic knob, like one of the checkers in my father’s checker set. (Sometimes when my father’s voice gets too loud at my mother, I go out to the parlor and put a checker in my mouth—suck it, passing my tongue over the grooved edge.) Now, I hear and feel the machine snap on. There’s a hissing sound, voices inside the box. “Dolores, look!” my mother says. A star appears at the center of the green glass face. It grows outward and becomes two women at a kitchen table, the owners of the voices. I begin to cry. Who shrank these women? Are they alive? Real? It’s 1956; I’m four years old. This isn’t what I’ve expected. The two men and my mother smile at my fright, delight in it. Or else, they’re sympathetic and consoling. My memory of that day is, like television itself, sharp and clear but unreliable.We hadn’t bought the set; it was a gift from Mrs. Masicotte, the rich widow who was my father’s boss. My father and Mrs. Masicotte’s relationship had started the previous spring, when she’d hired him to spray-paint several of her huge apartment houses and then wooed him into repainting his own pickup truck in her favorite color, peach, and stenciling the words “Masicotte Properties, General Manager” on the doors. The gift of the television celebrated my father’s decision.If I reach far back, I can see my father waving to my mother and me and climbing down from his ladder, spray gun in hand, as we arrive with his lunch in our turquoise-and-white car. Daddy reaches the ground and pulls off his face mask. The noise of his chugging orange air compressor is in my throat and legs, the sudden silence when he unplugs it delicious. There are speckles of paint in his hair and ears and eyebrows, but the mask has protected the rest of his face. I look away when his clean mouth talks.We lunch in the grass. My father eats sandwiches stuffed with smelly foods Ma and I refuse to eat: liverwurst, vinegar peppers, Limburger cheese. He drinks hot coffee right from the thermos and his Adam’s apple moves up and down when he swallows. He talks about “she” in a way that confuses me; “she” is either this half-white house of Mrs. Masicotte’s or the old woman herself.Old. I’m almost forty, probably as close now to Mrs. Masicotte’s age as I am to the age of my parents as they sat on that lawn, laughing and blowing dandelion puffs at me, smoking their shared Pall Mall cigarettes and thinking Mrs. Masicotte was the answer to their future—that that black-and-white Emerson television set was a gift free and clear of the strings that would begin our family’s unraveling.Television watching became my habit, my day. “Go out back and play, Dolores. You’ll burn that thing up,” my mother would warn, passing through the parlor. But my palm against the box felt warm, not hot; soothing, not dangerous like the boy across the street who threw rocks. Sometimes I turned the checker knob as far as it would go and let the volume shake my hand.Ma always stopped her housework for our favorite program, “Queen for a Day.” We sat together on the sofa, my leg hooked around Ma’s, and listened to the women whose children were crippled by polio, whose houses had been struck by lightning and death and divorce. The one with the saddest life, the loudest applause, got to trade her troubles for a velvet cape and roses and modern appliances. I clapped along with the studio audience—longest and hardest for the women who broke down and cried in the middle of their stories. I made my hands sting for these women.My father’s duties as Mrs. Masicotte’s manager, in addition to painting the outsides and insides of her properties, included answering tenants’ complaints and collecting their monthly rents. The latter he did on the first Saturday of every month, driving from house to house in Mrs. Masicotte’s peach-colored Cadillac. By the time I was a first grader, I was declared old enough to accompany him. My job was to ring tenants’ bells. None seemed happy to see my father and most failed to notice me at all as I peeked past them into their shadowy rooms, inhaling their cooking smells, eavesdropping on their talking TVs.Mrs. Masicotte was a beer drinker who loved to laugh and dance; the package store was one of our regular Saturday afternoon errands. “Case o’ Rheingold, bottles,” my father would tell the clerk, an old man whose name, Cookie, struck me funny. Cookie always offered me a cellophane-wrapped butterscotch candy and, by virtue of Mrs. Masicotte’s order, a chance to vote for Miss Rheingold at the cardboard ballot box next to his cash register. (Time after time I voted for the same Rheingold girl, whose dark brown hair and red-lipped smile reminded me both of Gisele MacKenzie from “Your Hit Parade” and my own mother, the best looking of the three.)My father was proud and protective of his own dark good looks. I remember having sometimes to hop around and hold my pee until he was finished with his long grooming behind the pink bathroom door on Carter Avenue. When he emerged, I’d stand on the stool amidst the steam and the aroma of uncapped Old Spice, watching my face wobble and drip in the medicine cabinet mirror. Daddy lifted barbells in the cellar—barefoot, wearing his undershirt and yellow bathing suit. Sometimes he’d strut around the kitchen afterward, popping his muscle at Ma or picking up the toaster to give his reflection a kiss. “You’re not conceited, you’re convinced!” Ma would joke. “Convinced you, all right, didn’t I?” he’d answer, then chase her around the kitchen, snapping the dish towel at her fanny and mine. Ma and I whooped and protested, delighted with his play.After the television came, Daddy brought his barbells upstairs and exercised in front of his favorite programs. Quiz shows were what he liked: “The $64,000 Question,” “Tic Tac Dough,” “Winner Take All.” Sometimes in the middle of his grunting and thrusting he’d call out the answers to losing players or, if they blew their chances, swear at them. “Well,” he’d tell my mother, “another poor bastard bites the dust, another poor slob gets to stay a working stiff like the rest of us.” He hated returning champions and rooted for their defeat. His contempt for them seemed somehow connected to his ability to lift the weights.According to my father, we should have been rich. Money was, in his mind, somehow due us and would have been ours had his simple parents not sold their thirty acres on Fisherman’s Cove for $3,000 to a Mr. Weiss the month before drowning in the Great Hurricane of 1938. During the Depression, when my father was coming of age, Fisherman’s Cove had been just marsh grass, wild blueberry bushes, and cabins with outhouses; by the time he went to work for Mrs. Masicotte, it was the cozy residence of millionaires. These included Mr. Weiss’s son, who lived two driveways down from Mrs. Masicotte and golfed for a living.My father forgave Mrs. Masicotte her wealth because she was generous with it—“spread it around,” as he put it. In those early years, the television was only the first in a stream of presents that included a swing set for me, kitcheny things for my mother (a set of maroon-colored juice glasses, a black ice bucket with brass claw feet), and, for my father, gifts he wore home from the big house on the cove: a houndstooth sports jacket, leather gloves lined in genuine rabbit’s fur, and my favorite—a wristwatch with a Twist-O-Flex band you could bend but not break.“That’s it, Jewboy, add another couple thousand to your stash,” my father shouted at the TV one night, in the middle of his exercise routine. “The $64,000 Question” was on; a champion with round eyeglasses and shiny cheeks had just emerged victorious from the Revlon isolation booth.“Don’t say that, Tony,” my mother protested.His eyes jumped from the screen to her. The weights wavered above his head. “Don’t say what?”Ma pointed her chin toward me. “I don’t want her hearing things like that,” she said.“Don’t say what?” he repeated.“All right, nothing. Just forget it.” Ma left the room. The barbell clanged to the floor, so loudly and surprisingly that my heart heaved in my chest. He followed her into the bedroom.Earlier that week he’d brought home from Mrs. Masicotte’s a thick art tablet and a tiered box of Crayola crayons. Now I opened the clean pad to a middle page and drew the face of a beautiful woman. I gave her long curling eyelashes, red lipstick, “burnt sienna”-colored hair, a crown. “Hello,” the woman said to me. “My name is Peggy. My favorite color is magenta.”“Don’t you ever—ever!—tell me what I can and cannot say in the privacy of my own home,” my father shouted from behind their door.Ma kept crying and apologizing.Later, after he’d stomped past me and driven away, Ma soaked herself in the tub—long past my bedtime, long enough for me to fill up half the pad with Peggy’s life.She usually shooed me out when I caught her naked, but Daddy’s anger had left her far away and careless. The ashtray sat on the edge of the tub, filled with stubbed-out Pall Malls; the bathroom was thick with smoke that moved when I moved.“See my lady?” I said. I meant the drawings as a sort of comfort, but she told me they were nice without really looking.“Is Daddy mean?” I asked.She took so long to answer that I thought she might not have heard. “Sometimes,” she said, finally.Her breasts appeared and disappeared at the surface of the soapy water. I’d never had the chance to study them before. Her nipples looked like Tootsie Rolls.“He gets mean when he feels unhappy.”“Why does he feel unhappy?”“Oh…” she said. “You’re too little to understand.”She turned abruptly toward me and caught me watching her shiny, wet breasts. Sloshing, she strapped her arms around herself and became, again, my proper mother. “Go on, skedaddle,” she said. “Daddy’s not mean. What are you talking about?”Mrs. Masicotte’s tenants paid their rents in cash, counting series of twenty-dollar bills into my father’s outstretched hand. On the best Saturdays, after Mrs. Masicotte’s leather zip bag was filled with money, Daddy would turn his attention to me. He liked the way television watching had made me a mimic.I’m Chiquita Banana and I’ve come to say Bananas have to ripen in a certain way Drive your CHEV-rolet Through the U-S.A. America’s the greatest land of all! Over and over, I sang the jingles he liked best. Sometimes we played “wild ride” on the twisting roads that led out to Fisherman’s Cove. I sat in the backseat of the car, a sort of junior Mrs. Masicotte, and commanded my father to speed. “Okay, ma’am, you ready, ma’am? Here we go!” I’d grab the peach velvet cord strapped across the rear of the front seat rests as Daddy gunned the car around corners and lurched over rises in the road. “Feel those blue-blooded shock absorbers, Dolores? We could be sitting in our living room.” Or this, which he told me once: “This car is ours! I bought this showboat from the old lady.” I could smell Mrs. Masicotte’s perfumy smell embedded in the soft upholstery and knew it wasn’t true, even back then when I would fall for almost anything—when I thought that, like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, my parents’ fights just meant they loved each other in a noisy way.The Saturday errands ended each week at the top of the long driveway on Jefferson Drive, where Mrs. Masicotte’s white wedding cake of a house looked down on Long Island Sound. We entered through the dark, cool cement garage, the Cadillac doors slamming louder than any before or since. We walked up the stairs and opened the door without knocking. On the other side was Mrs. Masicotte’s peach-colored kitchen, which made me squint. “Mind your manners, now,” Daddy never failed to warn me. “Say thank you.”It was in that kitchen where I waited for Daddy and Mrs. Masicotte to be finished with the weekly business, two rooms away. Though Mrs. Masicotte seemed as indifferent to me as her renters were, she provided richly for me while I waited. On hand were plates of bakery cookies, thick picture books with shiny pages, punch-out paper dolls. My companion during these vigils was Zahra, Mrs. Masicotte’s fat tan cocker spaniel, who sat at my feet and watched, unblinking, as cookies traveled mercilessly from the plate to my mouth.Mrs. Masicotte and my father laughed and talked loud during their meetings and sometimes played the radio. (Our radio at home was a plastic box; Mrs. Masicotte’s was a piece of furniture.) “Are we going soon?” I’d ask Daddy whenever he came out to the kitchen to check on me or get them another pair of Rheingolds. “A few minutes,” was what he always said, no matter how much longer they were going to be.I wanted my father to be at home laughing with Ma on Saturday afternoons, instead of with Mrs. Masicotte, who had yellowy white hair and a fat little body like Zahra’s. My father called Mrs. Masicotte by her first name, LuAnn; Ma called her, simply, “her.” “It’s her,” she’d tell Daddy whenever the telephone interrupted our dinner.Sometimes, when the meetings dragged on unreasonably or when they laughed too loud in there, I sat and dared myself to do naughty things, then did them. One time I scribbled on all the faces in the expensive storybooks. Another Saturday I waterlogged a sponge and threw it at Zahra’s face. Regularly, I tantalized the dog with the cookies I made sure stayed just out of her reach. My actions—each of which invited my father’s anger—shocked and pleased me.I had long hair the year I was in second grade. Mornings before school, my mother combed the snarls out of my ponytail and dosed me with a half teaspoon of Maalox to calm my nervous stomach. My teacher, Mrs. Nelkin, was a screamer. I spent most of the school year trying to be obedient—filling in every blank on every worksheet correctly, silently sliding oaktag word builders across my desktop, talking to no one.“Oh, don’t worry about that old biddy,” my mother advised. “Just think about the baby coming instead.”My baby brother or sister was due to arrive in February of 1958. When I asked my parents how the baby got inside Ma, they both laughed, and then Daddy told me they had made it with their bodies. I pictured them fully clothed, rubbing furiously against each other, like two sticks making fire.All fall and winter long, I coaxed bottles toward the mouth of my Baby Dawn doll and scrubbed her rubber skin in lukewarm water in the bathroom sink. I wanted a girl and Daddy wanted a boy. Ma didn’t care one way or the other, so long as it was healthy. “How will it get out?” I asked her one day near the end of the wait. “Oh, never mind,” was all she said. I imagined her lying on a hospital bed, calm and smiling, her huge stomach splitting down the middle like pants.At breakfast time on the morning of the school Valentine’s Day party, Ma decided to rearrange the silverware drawer—a task that upset her enough to make her cry.The valentine party turned out to be a fifteen-minute disappointment at the end of the long school day. As it drew to a close and we pulled on our boots and coats and stocking hats, Mrs. Nelkin approached me. She told me to remain at my desk when the dismissal bell rang; my father had telephoned the school to say he’d pick me up. I sat in the silence of the empty classroom with my hat and coat on and a stack of valentines in my lap. With the other kids gone, you could hear the scraping sound of the clock hands. Mr. Horvak, the janitor, muttered and swept up the crumbs our party had made and Mrs. Nelkin corrected papers without looking up.It was Grandma Holland from Rhode Island—my mother’s mother—who appeared for me finally at the classroom door. She and Mrs. Nelkin whispered together at the front of the room in a way that made me wonder if they knew each other. Then, in a sweeter voice than I was used to, Mrs. Nelkin told me I could go home.We didn’t go home, though. Grandma led me down the two flights of school stairs and out into a taxicab, which took us to St. Paul’s Cathedral. On the way there she told me my mother had had to go to a big hospital in Hartford because of “female trouble” and that my father had gone with her. Ma would be gone for at least two weeks and she, Grandma, would take care of me. There just wasn’t any baby anymore and that was that. We were having creamed dried beef for supper.The church’s stained-glass saints had the same tortured look as the women on “Queen for a Day.” Grandma took out her kidney-bean rosary and muttered the stations of the cross while I followed her, spilling valentines and accidentally kicking the wooden pews, raising up echoes. The candles we lit sat in maroon cups that reminded me of our juice glasses from Mrs. Masicotte. I wasn’t allowed to handle the flame. My job was to drop the coins into the metal box, two dimes for two candles, clink clink.When Daddy came home that night, he lay in my bed with me and read my valentines. He looked up at the ceiling when he talked about Ma. Somehow, he said, she had grown a cord in her stomach along with the baby. (I pictured the backseat cord in Mrs. Masicotte’s Cadillac.) Just as the baby was coming out, it wrapped the cord around its neck and strangled itself. Himself. A boy—Anthony Jr. As my father talked, tears dripped down the side of his face like candle wax. The sight shocked me; until that moment, I had assumed men were as incapable of crying as they were of having babies.I didn’t like having Grandma there. She slept on a cot in my room and boiled all our suppers. It was unsanitary, she said, the way Daddy drank right out of the water bottle and then put it back in the Frigidaire. It was shameful that her only granddaughter had reached the age of seven without having been taught to pray. She was sick, she said, of the same old question: when was my mother coming home? She was trying her best.Grandma crocheted as she watched TV, frowning alternately at what was on the screen and what was in her lap. She liked different programs than us. On her favorite, “The Edge of Night,” a rich woman had secretly killed a man by sticking an ice pick in his neck, but a pretty woman from a poor family was on trial for the murder. “Look at Mrs. High and Mighty,” Grandma said, her eyes narrowing on the murderess who sat undetected in the courtroom gallery. “She’s as guilty as sin.”My talent for mimicry came in handy with Grandma. I memorized for her the Ten Commandments and a prayer called Hail Holy Queen, about people gnashing their teeth in a scary place called the Valley of Tears. Wide-eyed, Grandma promised she would see to it that I made my first Holy Communion so that I could wear a beautiful white dress and veil and eat the body of Christ. Every morning she dismissed my fears, arguing that little girls my age were too young to have Maalox and then sending me off unprotected to Mrs. Nelkin.The day before my mother was due at last to come home from the hospital, Daddy gave me permission to miss school. He and I loaded Anthony Jr.’s toys and crib and bassinet into the back of the peach pickup and drove to the dump. On the way there he told me our job was to cheer Ma up and not even mention the baby. This struck me as reasonable. It wasn’t her fault the baby was dead; it was Anthony Jr.’s own stupid fault.Daddy flung the new mint-green furniture onto a pile of old mattresses and empty paint cans and got back into the truck, breathing hard. He drove fast over the rutty dump road and I bounced against the seat and door. Seagulls flew out of our way; people stood up from their garbage to watch us. I looked back at Anthony Jr.’s unused things receding quickly from us and understood for the first time the waste of his life.My father drove toward Fisherman’s Cove.“Oh, no, not her again,” I complained. “How long is this going to take?”But instead of turning in at the bottom of the long driveway on Jefferson Drive, Daddy went right past it, then took a different road.He parked at the vacant boat launch. We walked out onto a rickety dock and stood, side by side. The cold spring breeze snapped his nylon windbreaker.“See out there?” he said. He pointed to the ripply gray water of Long Island Sound. “Once when I was a kid about your age, I saw a whale right out past that red buoy. It was headed south and got confused. Stuck in the shallow water.”“What happened?”“Nothing bad. Swam around for a couple of hours with everybody looking at it. Then, at high tide, a few of the bigger boats drove in and nudged it back to sea.”He sat down on one of the pilings looking sick and sad and I knew he was thinking about Ma and the baby. I wanted badly to cheer him up but singing commercials seemed the wrong thing to do.“Daddy, listen,” I said. “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before thee…” He watched me uneasily as I recited the words of Grandma’s Commandments, as big and empty as the Pledge of Allegiance Mrs. Nelkin led each day. “… Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” He waited for me to finish. Then he told me it was too cold to be out there, to get in the goddamned truck.My mother arrived home, puffy-eyed, her stomach empty under the maternity blouse. The whole house filled up with the smell of carnations from Mrs. Masicotte. What Ma wanted most, she said, was to be left alone.She stayed in her pajamas past spring vacation, smiling absentmindedly at my stories and puppet shows, my television jingles and complaints. “Leave her alone, now,” Grandma kept saying. “Stop plaguing her.” Grandma herself showed no signs of packing.One day at school, Howard Hancin, my seatmate, raised his hand. Up to that moment, I’d felt neutral toward Howard, so I was completely unprepared when Mrs. Nelkin asked him what he wanted and he said, “Dolores Price is chewing on her word builders. She chews them every single day.”The entire class turned to stare.I was about to deny it when I looked down and realized it was absolutely true: the cardboard letters on my desk were bent and misshapen and several were still dark with my saliva. There was, as well, a word builder stuck to the inside of my cheek, even as Mrs. Nelkin approached. I was guilty as sin.She didn’t scream. She scarcely raised her voice as she addressed Howard and, by extension, the others in the class and me. “I suppose she thinks this is fine and dandy. I suppose she thinks school supplies grow on trees and that I’ll just reach up and pick her a new box of them. But I won’t, will I, Howard? She’ll just have to make do with her shabby ones for the rest of the year. Won’t she?”Howard didn’t answer. Mrs. Nelkin walked back up our row, heels clicking against the waxed wooden floor. She picked up a stick of chalk. The loose skin under her arm rocked back and forth as she wrote. I didn’t breathe until I saw that the words said nothing about me.When I got home, I heard my father shouting in my parents’ bedroom and ran to the safety of the parlor. He was goddamned fed up with this sob-sister business. It was his baby, too, for Christ’s sweet sake. Enough was enough. The front door slammed and Grandma’s footsteps went from the kitchen to my parents’ room. Ma wailed and wailed; Grandma’s voice was a murmur.The television was on; a man in a suit was talking about World War II. I flopped down on the sofa, too exhausted to change the channel.Bombs spilled from the bottom of an airplane, soldiers waved in a parade, and then something scared me in a way I’d never quite been scared before—not even the night Daddy had thrown the barbell. On the screen, skeleton men wearing diapers were trudging up a hill. Their sunken eyes seemed to be looking out at me personally, watching and beckoning me from Grandma’s Valley of Tears. I wanted to turn off the TV, but was afraid even to go near it. I waited for the commercial, then locked the bathroom door and sipped Maalox out of the bottle.That night I woke up screaming from a dream in which Mrs. Nelkin took me on a picnic, then calmly and matter-of-factly informed me the sandwiches we were eating contained the flesh of my dead baby brother.Daddy was the first one into my room—wild-haired and stumbling, wearing his underpants right in front of Grandma. She was the second one in. Then Ma. I felt suddenly powerful and excited; I kept screaming.Ma held me and rocked. “Shh, now. Easy. Just tell us what it is. Just say it.”“It’s her,” I said. “I hate her.”“Hate who, honey?” Daddy asked. “Who do you hate?” He squatted down on his haunches, the better to hear my answer.I had meant Mrs. Nelkin, but changed my mind as I spoke. I reached past him and pointed at Grandma, standing pinch-faced in her brown corduroy robe. “Her,” I said. “I want her to go home.”The next day was Saturday. I was watching morning cartoons in the parlor when Ma came out of her bedroom fully dressed and asked me what I wanted for breakfast.“Pancakes,” I said, as if the last months had been normal ones. “Where’s Daddy?”“He’s driving Grandma back to Rhode Island.”“She’s gone?”My mother nodded. “She left while you were still sleeping. She said to tell you good-bye.”I could banish Grandma Holland with my newfound power, but not Mrs. Masicotte. Instead, I went each Saturday to her house, thanked her sweetly for her presents, and kept watch.One afternoon, Mrs. Masicotte provided me with a scissors, a Betsy McCall paper-doll book, and the usual plate of sugar cookies. I ate a few of the cookies, teased Zahra with a few more, then set to work punching Betsy away from the cardboard page. I scissored the booklet’s prettiest outfit and hung it off her front. “Look, Zahra!” I commanded the cocker spaniel.I carried Betsy over to the stove, turned on the gas jet, and held her in the blue flame. Somehow, I knew that, of all the mischief I’d done at Mrs. Masicotte’s house, this was the worst, the thing that would make my father as angry at me as he could get at Ma. “Help me!” Betsy pleaded. Her paper clothes caught the flame, browned and buckled. “Zahra, help me! Help me!”My intention was to shock, or at least entertain, the bloated dog, but when I looked back, she was staring still at the cookies with such intensity that I forgot, for a second, the flame, and burned my thumb and finger.Mine is a story of craving: an unreliable account of lusts and troubles that began, somehow, in 1956 on the day our free television was delivered. Many times each week memory makes me a child again. Just last night I was, once more, in Mrs. Masicotte’s kitchen, turning from the flaming paper doll to learn from the fat dog Zahra my first lesson in the awful strength of coveting, the power of want.“Look, Zahra! I’m dying!” I moan. “Help me! Please!”The dog—riveted, unblinking—sees only the sugar-crusted cookies.© 1992 Wally Lamb

From Our Editors

Delve into the extraordinary world of 13-year-old Dolores Price. In She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb has created a comical and bittersweet heroine who tries to come of age in the sixties, when hippies and pot are the last thing on poor Dolores' mind. No, 13-year-old Dolores has to contend with a mentally-ill mother, an abusive father and the fact that she was raped in a dog pound by a local DJ. She spends her "glorious" teenaged years eating and eating in front of the TV. When she reaches the weight of 257 pounds as a young woman, life still holds misery - but Dolores isn't going to give up that easily. She's determined to give herself one more chance to find herself and her place in the world.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times An ambitious, often stirring and hilarious book.