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Wally Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone” Has a Special Place in my Heart

*Spoiler/Trigger Warning: I will be talking about specific points of the book. Also, there will be mention of suicide.*

“She’s Come Undone” was the first book I read by Wally Lamb and I remember being blown away. I first read this book during my freshman year of high school. The story was so good and well-written that it has stuck with me until now.

The book features a pre-teen girl named Dolores as she goes through the tribulations of her childhood. A mainstay would be the new television that her family got and it essentially becomes a bonding thing for her and her mother – Dolores’ father had walked out on them for another woman.

That was only the beginning of Dolores’ troubles in life. She went to college where she was continuously fat-shamed. She had a secret infatuation with her college roommate’s boyfriend, who was also sleeping around with other women.

She had a one-night stand with a lesbian, which was followed up with a suicide attempt. She had traveled to Cape Cod and she saw a dying whale washed up on the beach. Dolores essentially tried to drown herself in the ocean.

Her suicide attempt landed her in a mental institution, where she managed to lose 100 pounds. She left the institution and found her old college roommate’s boyfriend, married him, and he once forced her to get an abortion. That relationship was quite toxic as he tried to control every aspect of Dolores’ life.

In all of this time, Dolores’ mom and grandmother had died – her mother before she left for college, and her grandmother after she finally divorced her old roommate’s ex-boyfriend.

Dolores does have a happy ending, though. The happy ending came in a full circle as this place of happiness was originally a place of sadness and despair. The imagery between such happiness and sadness was something that stuck with me.

When I was reading this book for the first time, it felt as if Dolores herself was telling me her story. Wally Lamb does such a great job writing this book that I forget that he’s the one who wrote it. It’s as if Dolores wrote this in her personal journal and I just happened to read it.

Reading “She’s Come Undone” for the first time was truly an experience, especially for my 15-year-old self. The subject matter was so deep and raw, and Wally Lamb tackled it so well. It’s amazing to me how this book had such an impact on me, even six years later.

That impact has been subconscious — something that I haven’t directly thought about until recently. The book resonates with me so much because I relate to Dolores on a personal level. Dolores goes through rough times in her personal relationships along with the death of two very important figures in her life. Dolores’ struggles are one of my own. Even though my struggles aren’t directly the same as hers, they’re similar enough.

After reading “She’s Come Undone,” I read another book by Wally Lamb called “I Know This Much Is True.” That story was about a pair of twins, one of them having a severe mental illness – I believe it was schizophrenia. These two books solidified Wally Lamb as my favorite.

“She’s Come Undone” has had such an impact on me and it has a special place in my heart – a place that I wouldn’t want to get rid of.

Chinyere (sha-near-ruh) is a senior at DePaul University. She has been writing for Her Campus DePaul since October 2019. Chinyere has been a Social Media Director for the chapter's Twitter every other week for the past year. Going into her senior year, she's been promoted to Senior Social Media Director. She enjoys anything journalism-related, watching the Cleveland Browns, and playing ultimate frisbee and tennis in her free time. Plus, she enjoys watching reality TV shows, Marvel shows on Disney+, and raving about Manifest.
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