When I read She’s Come Undone almost 20 years ago, it was a book I couldn’t put down; and it became a story that stayed with me across the years. Perhaps a letter written about the same time to Wally Lamb by a then mentally ill young man helps explain why Dolores Price captured my heart and my imagination. He wrote:
[quote]I didn’t write to bear [sic] my soul or anything, Mr. Lamb, but when I was an inpatient at the Institute for Living for two and a half years, I read a lot and thought a lot, and one of my ridiculous thoughts/fantasies was that if I were to have a literary character dinner party, I would invite, being 27 but still pathetically immature, [Salinger’s] Holden Caulfield, [Hemmingway’s] Jake Barnes, [Kate Chopin’s] Edna Pontellier, and [John Updike’s] Rabbit Angstrom (the young one). What I wanted to tell you is that I’m extending an invitation to Dolores Price for that dinner party…I wasn’t fat as a kid like Dolores, but when I got to the I.O.L. and they hit me with Thorazine, etc., etc., suddenly (now) I weigh a hundred pounds more than I did in college. And though I never tried to drown myself as Dolores did—I was a razor man—the scene with the [dead] whale was amazing. I felt like she was fighting for me… And at the end, I felt happy for her and really lifted. Thanks for writing your book. Give my love to Dolores!
I, like David F. and countless others, made a friend for life with Dolores Price and her story; and I, too, felt like she was fighting for me. She is an unexpected, imperfect heroine who makes us feel we are not alone in our struggles. Her triumph gives us hope that we, too, can find a measure of peace and grace no matter what life throws at us or what we throw back. Ultimately, it is a story that affirms, scary though it may be at times, that having the courage to forgive ourselves and others and having the courage to offer and accept love is the best risk of all.
Director & Adapter