Still thinking about my star rating....
(edit) I think I will stay with three stars. I know that I am not a big fan of dysfunctional family dramas (for the most part, since there always is the exception!)and would probably not pick this one up again.
The focus is on Dolores who as a child suffers through a very unstable relationship with adults, who are of course, her mother and father. As a reader you can see the life that Dolores is headed for as she experiences traumatic events over and over again as a child. It's liking watching a scary movie, you have your hands over your eyes and are peeking through the fingers because you know it isn't going to be good.
As the book progresses, there were many times when you want her to rally and you think that maybe she can do it, but alas change/being damaged/surrounded by sucky people is hard. I also have to say that Dolores seemed to get the short end of the stick when it comes to human interactions, just about everyone in the book is out to destroy her either physically or emotionally. Just one big load of crappy people.
At the end things get better, not great, but Dolores has made it through which is the important thing. You have to give her a lot of credit for where she ends up.
I will say that Lamb is great at characterization and each person in the novel leaves the reader with a distinct impression and visual image - for the good and bad. He focuses in on the relationships between people and the complicated motivations and baggage people carry which is some crazy stuff.
Now daring myself to read another of his books!