My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I started this novel, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I thought I might have to drag myself through it. The character, Dolores Price, was rough around the edges and unlikable. Then I realized I was half way through, and surprisingly, I still wanted to keep reading.
When I say a lot of shit happens to this girl, I mean it. Many of the comments I read before I flipped open the first page said that this story isn’t realistic… too many bad things happen. I agree, but that doesn’t mean this story isn’t good or relate-able or relevant. I think that the story is primarily an analysis of choices, both personal choices – conscious and subconscious – and choices made by others and how that effects the protagonist.
An aspect of this book I loved was the circularity of the symbols and other characters. At one point, I thought to myself, “There’s no way out of all the people in the country, she’d run into them.” But it happens in this book… a couple of times. Soon after thinking that it was impossible though, I decided that I liked the recurrences. They reminded me how far Dolores had come. She moved through so many stages in her life to get to the last page of the novel. Those little reminders of her past lives drove home the purpose of telling her story.
The motive behind the book, I think, is to propose that everyone deserves happiness and love. Wally Lamb does this without being romantic or cutesy. This doesn’t seem like a story your grandma would like, or for that matter, one that Dolores’ grandmother would like. There’s a lot of nasty business going on in this book.
I’m going through this phase where I want to purge my bookshelves and only leave the books that are truly meaningful to me. I think I’ve decided that this is a novel that will stay on my shelves.