When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives. But when Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion ...
When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives. But when Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family's Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right. While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers five generations' worth of diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in his family's house. As unimaginable secrets emerge, Caelum grapples with the past and struggles to fashion a future from the ashes of tragedy. His quest for meaning is at once mythic and contemporary, personal and quintessentially American.
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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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