I think I was seduced by the artwork on the cover of this book. It shows a pale blue sky, with a few clouds, over a body of water that could be an ocean. In the center of the cover, on the horizon line, is a woman’s face surrounded by puffy, white clouds. It is very surreal. It made me wonder what was going on with the disembodied floating face, and what happens in the book.
The story is about the life of Dolores Price as she grows up, has problems and gets over them. I guess in some ways it can be seen as inspiring.
For most of the book, I was cringing, watching Dolores make bad choice after bad choice, and screwing up her life. To be fair, Dolores has some really bad things happen to her, through no fault of her own, and the effects of those events linger on and color the rest of Dolores’s decisions.
But still, it was hard to watch at times. I can’t really write about the specific problems that Dolores goes through without giving away large parts of the story. I will say that the problems merge together and grow, like a snowball rolling down a hill.
There were some things that were exceptionally well done. Wally Lamb does a masterful job of getting inside the head of Dolores, describing everything from how her body felt to what her thoughts were. Everything is written out in great detail, from having her first period, to massive weight gain and loss, to pregnancy, to what her sexual experiences felt like to her.
Lamb also does a great job of capturing the specific years Dolores lives through. He describes what it is like to be in the 1950s and get a brand new television, and what it was like to watch television back when it was a new thing. He weaves into the story the moon landing, the Beatles, the death of Elvis, Farrah Fawcett hairstyles, and even the Rubik’s Cube. Different characters drive vehicles that were new for that time period, and there are many scenes where someone is singing along to music that is popular that year.
This is not what I would consider a light, easy, “beach read”, because too many serious things are going on at any given time. The calm, blue, airy cover art made me think I was going to read something lighter than what I found. I enjoyed the book, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting.