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Character development

Irma Lemus

MAGNOLIA PARK-- For John Burroughs ninth-grader Rise Gallo, Dolores

Prize is more than just a fictional character.

Gallo, who chose Wally Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone” for a class


assignment that required students to read an adult-level book, was so

moved by the unconventional heroine -- who grapples with mental illness,

violence and rape -- that she wrote a poem about her that an instructor

forwarded on to the author.


“She inspired me. In a lot of ways I related to her,” Gallo said of

the character. "(She) went through hardships with her family and at the

end she forgave her family. She realized that she had to forgive in order

to move on.”

Last week, Gallo’s devotion to Dolores Prize was rewarded when she

received a handwritten note from the book’s author.

Rochelle Nelson, a student teacher in Gallo’s English class, said she

came up with the idea of sending Gallo’s poem to Lamb after watching the


student perform a monologue during a discussion of the book in class.

Gallo impressed her classmates and instructors with her emotional

interpretation of the novel, Nelson said, grabbing their attention but

making sure they would still read the book by not giving away the ending.

“I loved it. I thought that it was very creative,” said Nelson. “These

days there is so much emphasis on illiteracy that it’s terrific a

ninth-grader had done such great work.”

Because she didn’t know Lamb’s address, Nelson said she wrote to the


book’s publisher, Washington Square Publishing, in the hope the poem

would be forwarded to Lamb.

About a week ago, Nelson received a note from the author and a

postcard addressed to Gallo, as well as two signed book plates.

In the note, Lamb thanked Gallo for the poem and told her that she had

captured the essence of Dolores Prize.

“I enjoyed reading your Dolores-inspired poem,” Lamb wrote. “You

really understood my character -- both her pain and her potential.”

Gallo, who aspires to be a novelist, said she was pleased to hear from

the author but that she wasn’t entirely satisfied with her poem.

“I was just excited that [Lamb] took time out from his busy schedule

to write to me and that he liked my poem,” said Gallo.


Excerpt from “She’s Cone Undone” by Rise Gallo

Dolores Price only knew how to run

They chased her away

Now she’s come undone

Her story was one of craving and uncontrollable lusts

She was always searching, always needing

Having no one to love, no one to trust

Where she walked destruction did follow

Keeping on the same path

She had no heart, her soul was hollow