From the author of the international number one bestseller I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE comes a magnificent novel of a life turned upside-down by tragedy - and the search for a way to carry on in the aftermath. Caelum Quirk is a middle-aged schoolteacher. Students at Columbine High School generally respect him and turn to his wife Maureen, the school ...
From the author of the international number one bestseller I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE comes a magnificent novel of a life turned upside-down by tragedy - and the search for a way to carry on in the aftermath. Caelum Quirk is a middle-aged schoolteacher. Students at Columbine High School generally respect him and turn to his wife Maureen, the school nurse, when in trouble. When he has to return to his home town for the funeral of his beloved aunt, Maureen promises to join him the next day - but she goes to work that morning, and that's when the shootings happen. She hides in a cupboard, unable to see what's happening, but listening to the students being taunted, then killed. Life can never be the same again. In the face of Maureen's trauma, Caelum searches for meaning, delving into his own family history and discovering that nothing was as he's always been told. As the couple inch towards recovery and suffer setbacks, the stories of Caelum's redoubtable ancestors illuminate how he came to be the man he is, and how he and Maureen might live in the future with freedom and dignity. With no easy answers, Caelum gradually comes to an understanding of who he really is and what he can believe in.
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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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