Book style: Coming-of-age drama
Book pairing: A tough ale
When I first volunteered at my local library when I was around 14, which would be in the mid to late 90’s, I put this book away often. It was published in 1992 and hit Oprah’s list in 1997, so naturally it got checked out a lot. I was always intrigued by this book because of the cover (which is how I pick out my wine and beers). For some reason though, I forgot about the book and never read it.
I happened upon this book at a Half Price Books so I decided to finally just buy the thing and read it. And even though I’d seen this book a hundred time, I didn’t really know what it was about.
This book revolves around Delores Price and her pretty shitty life. Granted, many of the things that made her life shitty was because of the choices she made, but some definitely were not. She was handed a lot of crap, and dealt with it the best way she could, but when your life leaves you angry and resentful, it’s hard to do a good job at dealing with all of it.
Without giving away too much detail, Delores deals with a jerk of a dad, a half-crazed mother (due to unfortunate circumstances), and just overall bad people she meets in life. Because of these traumatic events that happen to her early in life, her teenage and later years are mottled and filled with rage-filled impulses. Good people come into her life, but she doesn’t see this until later, after she hits rock bottom. I thought this book paired well with the Hardwork Pale Ale by Ozark Brewing because her life demanded hard work. Even though she failed at so many things, the obstacles she faced, forced her to push through so much anguish, anger and pain.
Throughout the book, I constantly forgot this book was written by a man. I thought he did a great job writing from a females perspective, from the second grade all the way until 40. The characters all felt alive, real and different to me, which I appreciated. I loved some characters (Mr. Pucci and Roberta Jaskiewicz), and hated others (dad and Jack Speight).
There have been some bad reviews of this book, mainly I found because people thought that Wally Lamb made the girl out to be so overweight she couldn’t function, but marked her at 275, which some critics said is not correct. I find this detail slightly irrelevant. I suppose he could have done more research to see what weight you would need to reach in order to barely fit into a small car, but we also never know what her height was, so maybe it was actually accurate. Regardless, I think this small issue takes away from the book. I felt Delores’s rage, whether it was rightly placed at the time or not. I felt for her, and for the people who entered and left her life, and for me, that’s a true sign of a good book. It also has the making to be a good movie, but who knows.
Overall I thought it was a very well written book, and I will most likely be putting more Wally Lamb books on my to-read list.
Overall rating: 8.75/10