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.
PIECES OF POETRY
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