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Cannonball Read IV: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

By hellokatieo | Book Reviews | December 17, 2012 | Comments ()


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(hellokatieo is one of over 20 people who have completed a Full Cannonball during Cannonball Read IV, or who are pretty damn close at this point. Later this week, we'll have reviews from two participants who each read and reviewed a DOUBLE Cannonball of 104 books. Jealous? Consider Cannonball Read 5! Registration isn't open yet, but you can subscribe to the blog and get updates on that and more. Don't miss out! -- mswas)


She's Come Undone is one of my all time favorite novels. I've read it twice a year for as long as I can remember, and I can conjure up the distinctive artwork of my paperback copy in my mind without ever closing my eyes. Much like I Know This Much is True, I can't figure out exactly what it is about this book that has brought me back over and over again.

There's really only two possible answers. The first is Dolores Price, the main character of the book. We follow Dolores from childhood through a tumultuous adulthood. The book skips through time, highlighting the critical times of her life. Her fast friendship with her childhood waken. Her sexual awakening. Her violent rape by her mother's illicit lover. Her rapid weight gain and she struggles to forget the rape. Her seven year stint in a mental institution. Her marriage, and its rapid dissolution over her forced abortion.

It's almost like a series of short stories and each one will break your heart. Dolores just feels real. Even as she descends into mental illness and engages in behavior that seems terrifying, and self destructive - it's not over the top. At all times, you have a 100% understanding of why she's doing what she's doing. When she stalks her former college roommate's ex-boyfriend and then marries him, it just feels right. It's what she would do.

And the other possible answer is Wally Lamb himself. His writing is unbelievable. I've read each of his books at least 10 times and I can't stand waiting for the next. His characters feel like your friends and neighbors, or like they're just a part of you. They struggle and they try to overcome their personal demons but ultimately, they are human.

Anyway, I decided to re-read this for my 52nd book because it's probably my favorite book. And I have officially completed the Cannonball! I'm going to keep reading and reviewing but I'm happy I hit my goal so early in the year.

For more of hellokatieo's reviews, check out her blog, Book It.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Sara Habein

    I read this in high school, and I remember enjoying both it and I Know This Much is True (except that one, I kinda skimmed on the journal entries, I remember)... but I don't know how I would feel about it now, and I don't remember enough firm details to say. 15 year old me was a different reader than 29 year old me.

  • baxlala

    I read this in college and loved it but the comments here are making me wonder if I'd love it as much if I read it now, 10 years later (holy shit, since when was college 10 FUCKING YEARS AGO). Anyway. If I'm remembering correctly (which I'm probably not because HELLO 10 FUCKING YEARS AGO), I found Dolores immensely frustrating but also felt really bad for her and her mom and grandma and WOW even thinking about it is kind of bumming me out a little so I'm going to go look at puppies for a while.

  • I read it in college, too, and I don't remember very much about it except there was a whale? Or something? Am I making that up? Anyway, I don't remember being very impressed with it.

  • caragwapa

    I echo you guys in saying that all I can remember from this book is how annoying I found the main character. I did not enjoy this one. I even gave away my copy.

  • Ashley Holland King

    This is probably one of my favorite books ever. Like you, I've probably read this book every year since the late 90's, and I always end up as heartbroken for Dolores as the first time I read it. I love Wally Lamb's descriptive writing style, I can get lost in everything he's ever written.

  • SabrinaHatesDisqus

    I'm going to join the anti- crowd and say that I haaaated this book. My only relief is that I didn't buy it myself. I may not get those hours back, but at least I didn't waste any money on it.

  • Sarah

    Wow, this just goes to show how radically different reader experience can be, because I absolutely loathe this book. In fact, whenever someone asks what's the worst book I have ever read, this is my go to. I completely agree with the assessment that it's inauthentic, from cover to cover.

  • BobbFrapples

    I read this book in high school and hated it. I was severely overweight and She's Come Undone helped tip my self loathing into something much darker that I didn't come out of until I got into college.

  • Idle Primate

    I really liked I Know This Much To Be True. Though partly due to an unfortunate serendipity of timing. She's come undone was more mawkish. It seek dlike a bit of a pity party no one else is supposed to see

  • RhymesWithSilver

    Man, I had pretty much the opposite reaction to this book. I really disliked Dolores and just about everyone else in it. I found huge chunks of it distractingly inauthentic, like a bad Lifetime movie. I just don't read this sort of beach book very often, and "She's Come Undone" reminded my of all the reasons why.

  • vdo86

    all I can remember is hating this book...I mention it if someone asks about books I regretted reading.

  • Kitastrophe

    'like a bad Lifetime movie' - that is dead on. Everything felt fake

  • Wednesday

    Me, too. I hated it. I had a friend tell me it was incredible to her how a man could capture the female point of view so well, and I thought, did we read the same book? There was nothing about it that felt authentic to me.

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