“I usually learn more from the situations I hate than the ones I love.” -She’s Come Undone
Unfortunately, if you were to replace “situation” with “book,” the same would not be true.
Wally Lamb stole my heart when he wrote I Know This Much Is True. I couldn’t believe such a great book even existed. I connected with it on many levels, I felt for the characters (even ones I couldn’t really relate to at all) and the story came back around in a way I didn’t expect.
She’s Come Undone did none of those things.
I know, I know. It made Oprah’s Book Club list! How could I say it was less than perfect? He brings up sensitive topics and is one of the first to have an overweight protagonist!! Melinda! WHAAAT?
First let me tell you, I love the fact that Wally Lamb went outside the box with this book. It was a page turner. Half the time. But I would never bring up this book in a conversation. I’d never talk about it passionately and tell you, “You must read this book! It’s a life changer!”
I love to tell people these things. Loooove it. It’s part of why I read: so I can share and connect and talk to others.
Not only did Wally Lamb do something original by creating a main character who was largely obese, but he also made one with almost zero redeeming qualities. Yes, Delores Price had some horrible shi*t handed to her in life. Yes, I felt awful, just awful, for what she endured. But guess what? I didn’t actually like her. Not from page one. Call me crazy, but I guess in order to truly dive into a book, the lead role needs to be filled by someone worth reading about. Delores Price bored me and I thought she was rude.
I know that the fact that she was so rude was part of her life story. But stillll.
That’s probably why I am giving this a bad review, yet millions have loved it, and (OMG) someone once told me it was “better than his other book.” Please.
I was also perplexed by something. Because, you know, in this day and age, people love to be offended. I think half the population thrives off this weird energy of negativity and want to be offended by anything and everything. I am not one of those people, this book didn’t offend me, but I wondered:
“Was anyone offended by the fact that the obese main character in this book was raped? As if all people who can’t manage their weight have been through something horrible, and that’s why?”
“Were people glad that he was pointing out the fact that obese people shouldn’t be judged? Maybe they’ve had a very difficult life and even though they seem unsociable and rude and sit in the corner of every room, they’re actually great people worth getting to know.”
WHEW. That was hard to type. Because obesity is a very hard topic. Weight in general is a difficult topic for almost any person (ummm, girl, I’d say any girl), no matter what they weigh or what they actually look like.
I have known bigger woman who were the life of the party. I’ve known some who were shy. I’ve known some with the luckiest lives ever and some with terrible moments in their history.
I have also known tiny, normal sized, and any other category of women (or men) you can think of who have had these same personality traits.
EVERYONE IS JUST SOOOO DIFFERENT.
That being my disclaimer, I still couldn’t help but wonder why this book struck a chord with so many. Why did it become the big huge hit that it became?
I think it’s because whether or not Delores Price was someone we actually liked, people loved the controversial topic. Maybe some people could look past her personality and look only toward the story that was about a big girl… because that’s rarely done in literature.
I kept thinking, “Even if this was a skinny girl, I wouldn’t like her very much. I’d still feel bad for her, but yeah…. no emotion attached, Delores. Sorry.”
I honestly don’t have much else to say. In the parts where I was supposed to cry, I didn’t.
That pretty much says it all.
Have you read it? Are you mad at me, you She’s Come Undone lover???
Do you agree with me? Anyone?
Read it and let me know!
(And sorry, Wally. I really do love you.)
September 4, 2013 at 5:47 PM
I read this story a very long time ago. My mom bought it for me because Oprah said she should, and she shoved it at me amongst a stack of books about how to be a better daughter and why teenage daughters should get along with their mothers. By the way, my mother doesn’t read.
A few years later, I finally decided to crack it open. The bitterness behind it (why did she seem so eager to give me a book about a “fat” girl?–remember, I was about 17 at the time, with lots of body issues) had faded just enough and my bookshelf was empty. I decided not to read Harry Potter again.
Bad choice–I should have.
I 100% agree with you that it was a page turner. I finished the whole book, and there are quite a few books I hated so much I couldn’t finish. But I can honestly say after reading this book I felt empty.
Not sad, nor satisfied, nor any other emotion–even bad ones–that I look for in reading a book. I just felt empty, and maybe a little bit violated. I don’t remember most of the book except some very weird scenes, but still. I remember distinctly not wanting to ever talk to someone about it, because I didn’t see a point.
Well, now I’m talking about it–and I guess I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t a fan!
September 4, 2013 at 5:50 PM
WHEW!!! Seriously, I am relieved. Thanks so much for sharing your She’s Come Undone experience. Next time, let’s just all read Harry Potter. Deal? :)
September 4, 2013 at 6:09 PM
Already on it! Haha.
September 4, 2013 at 7:10 PM
I Know This Much Is True, another of Wally Lamb’s books is one of my absolute favorites. However, I’ve heard the same things about She’s Come Undone which is why I’ve never picked it up. Guess that’s a good decision haha.
September 5, 2013 at 5:47 AM
Yeah, I’d stick with his others! ;) Thanks for the comment!
September 5, 2013 at 8:08 AM
Ahh totally missed the line where you already mentioned this title. I was thinking you’d put The Hour I First Believed. Haven’t gotten all the way through that one yet but hopefully it’ll be another good one.
September 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM
Same here… I am a few chapters into The Hour I First Believed :) Let me know if you love it or not!
September 4, 2013 at 7:34 PM
You said it well, Melinda. I think “Delores Price bored me and I thought she was rude.” pretty much sums it up!! In general, I think we as readers love to hate awful characters (Amy in Gone Girl comes to mind) but I didn’t even love to hate Delores, I just couldn’t stand her. However, I did finish the book and rather quickly, so I have to give Lamb credit for somehow making the book interesting enough to read… perhaps we were longing for some redeeming quality or reason to like the book?! Who knows! I’ll have to read I Know This Much Is True to see what he can really do. :)
September 5, 2013 at 5:46 AM
I’ll let you borrow it!!! ;) Thanks, Emily!
September 5, 2013 at 9:58 PM
I haven’t read it, but I’m kind of interested to now. Except not really because I would probably agree with you and end up hating it too.
September 6, 2013 at 10:10 AM
Wally Lamb is one of my favorite writers, but this book was my least favorite. I’m a big fan of, ‘I Know This Much Is True,’ and even, ‘The Hour I First Believed,’ even though it was a little iffy. I agree with you about Delores – she was not a great character, at least to me. When there’s only enough to dislike, I felt like she became extremely two-dimensional. That might be just me, but she needed a bit more to be something. Definitely not as good as his, ‘other book.’ :)
September 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM
So glad I am not all alone in this world :) I love Wally… just not Delores!