“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.” (She’s Come Undone by Wally lamb)
At her best, Dolores Price is an aging Matilda, minus the super-brain, but with the same wickedly creative sense of justice. At her worst, she’s Merry from Roth’s American Pastoral, minus the perfect American family and political killing, but with the same incomprehensible adolescence. While Dolores is busy vacillating between these two characters, she also throws 1950’s housewife, crazy convalescent, and hard-to-get single woman into the jumbled mix that is her character. One can’t help but wish that she would just stay her true self – her delightfully foul-mouthed, creatively wrathful, bashfully insightful self – and stop trying to be an every-woman of the 80’s.
If only all books held up to the promises of their beginnings. After the first chapter, I was looking for a book full of razor sharp observations about its quirky characters. As per the mysterious quote above, I was hoping for more much more unreliability and many more lusts and troubles. Instead, Dolores mostly avoids lust, brings semi-boring trouble on herself, and is irritatingly reliable in her ability to describe horribly boring patches of her life. For all that, I did manage to finish this book in only a few sittings because, reliable and un-lustful though she was, I had to find out what became of Dolores (and, perhaps, every woman coming of age in the 80’s).
Buy – Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Length: 480 pgs
Ending: interesting and hopeful, but not fairy-tale happy
Incidental Learning: Psychiatry, feminism
Further Reading: I’m having a hard time thinking of any interesting coming-of-age story from a female perspective. Maybe this is a boring topic for me. I’d recommend reading ‘Catcher and the Rye‘ and hoping that someone writes a book that interesting starring a girl. That’s the best I’ve got.