Tuesday, November 29, 2016

She's Come Undone - by Wally Lamb

This is the second book I've selected from the Little Free Library on Washington Street in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. It turns out both were choices from Oprah's Book Club. I never participated in Oprah's book club, but back in my public library days I was always aware of what her picks were because people would start calling the library as soon as they were announced to find out if we had them. Anyway, I enjoyed both books I chose (the other was Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts).

In this coming-of-age novel young Delores Price faces a tragedy that eventually tears her family apart. After her parents divorce she is sent to live with her grandmother while her mother recuperates from a mental breakdown, and Delores' life begins a downward spiral. She is obese, and essentially friendless when she leaves for college where more torment awaits her. After several years in a psychiatric ward she tries to strike out on her own, but her pain has not been fully explored or healed.

The copyright on this book is 1992, and the story follows Delores from her childhood in the 1950s through adulthood. All the action takes place before the time of Google, indeed, personal computers were virtually unknown to the characters in this work. Of course that means that they had to go to the library to find things out. Delores in a prolific library user. This is especially evident when she mentions that her school guidance counselor, Mr. Pucci, saw her though "$230 worth of unreturned library books". She doesn't get much better at returning books as an adult.When she takes the feminist classic Our Bodies Ourselves out of the Montpelier (VT) public library she apparently ignores the overdue notices that "begin to appear" along with her bills in the mail.

She takes advantage of the Providence (RI) Public Library's vast collection of telephone books from around the country ("thousands and thousands of pounds of tissue paper pages") to find the address of someone she's been stalking. I guess this is one library service that is no longer needed. Who uses phone books anymore? And it is so much easier to stalk people online as well.

And finally, a first. This is the first book I've blogged about a book that mentioned a hospital library.

The writing is first-rate, and despite Delores' deep cynicism she is someone the reader wants to cheer for. The book really isn't as depressing as my post might make it sound. It has some truly sweet spots.

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