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.