The extraordinary new novel from Wally Lamb, the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author and two-time Oprah Book Club pick, is a work of prodigious scope and ambition, exploring the consequences of violence on human lives blown irrevocably off course. When 47-year-old teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife Maureen, a nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Maureen finds herself in the school library, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful ...
The extraordinary new novel from Wally Lamb, the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author and two-time Oprah Book Club pick, is a work of prodigious scope and ambition, exploring the consequences of violence on human lives blown irrevocably off course. When 47-year-old teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife Maureen, a nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Maureen finds herself in the school library, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously, she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk ancestors, from the time of the Civil War to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long buried fear, anger, guilt and grief rise to the surface. As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED is a profound and compelling work of fiction. And Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.
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What makes Wally Lamb great is that he writes about real life - a life to which the reader can truly relate.
The truth of the matter is that life often sucks! It is often mundane, depressing, frustrating, difficult and uninspiring. Filled with work, chores, arguments, leaky roofs, busted cars and money shortages.
If you do not wish to be reminded of this reality - this truth - then Wally Lamb is not the writer for you my friend. If you seek escape - look elsewhere.
The characters in Wally Lamb's books are incomplete - we witness their growth and maturation as they endure "real" life. This is a quality that I look for in any fiction that I read - I want to see struggle that I can relate with. I want to see myself reflected in the experiences of the characters. I want to be validated, encouraged and inspired.
Really, this is a book about a journey. About discovering what really matters in life - a lesson that is sometimes not learned until everything is stripped from you. As Americans, we have the luxury of surrounding ourselves with diversions. We are insulated from much of the real struggle of life - often because we are able to throw money at our problems.
But, what if you lost everything - one piece at a time. At what point would you break? When would you quit? In The Hour I First Believed, the main character, Caelum Quirk, experiences a series of devastating losses and life changes that send him "backward," landing him in the home of his youth. From the shootings at Columbine, to job loss, his wife's mental illness and death, his continual financial challenges and grueling work schedule - Caelum Quirk rises every day to meet life head on.
Reading this book requires patience. Nothing explodes. There are no graphic sex scenes. We simple walk with Caelum Quirk as he faces each day, tries to deal with what is in front of him, tries to cope with his many difficulties and finds purpose and meaning in the process. This book is filled with wisdom - with the knowledge that life is not always fair, not always fun - but is always beautiful.
Our task in life is to look through our immediate challenges - the temporal - and begin to see their purpose. Everything happens for a reason. So, instead of asking "why," we should ask "what for?" Our experiences mold and forge us - they are the building block for who we are to become. Failure to face our challenges with dignity, courage and persistence will result in a failure to grow or mature.
I am grateful for the many hours I spent in reading this book. It was a beautiful journey from which a learned a great deal about myself and about the journey we are all on in the world.
Jul 29, 2010
another Great book by Lamb
The story is not just that of Columbine, but is a novelist study into posttraumatic stress syndrome; and how it has affected the U.S. for years.
I especially like how Mr. Lamb relates a story of very awful acts and is still able to bring humor and relations that anybody can feel.
The book is not too long, the pure fact that the book ends at all is a shame; I really enjoyed this look into another person?s life.
Nov 5, 2009
I loved Wally Lamb's last two books and he does not dispoint in his new book. It is gripping and hard to put down.
Jul 16, 2009
Contemporary but depressing
This book kept me interested, but left me down in the dumps. That's okay, given that the reader knows that Columbine was a horrible puzzling event in America and of course had long lasting effects on many people. The characters were real, if not a little too messed up. I flipped through the family diaries and didn't really miss anything because the auther recaps very nicely and ties all the loose ends. I felt lost once or twice when the story takes a sudden turn, but again, the author comes back full circle and ties it all together. Very well written, not a lot of bad language.
Jul 14, 2009
Really hard to put down!
This is a great book. It goes a great deal into the after effects of someone present during the Columbine shootings- but also goes way beyond it and deals with many family issues, dealing with the past, supporting a spouse in trouble, learning that all of us can fail and hurt others in the "right" circumstances. It is long but worth it.
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