Wednesday, January 28, 2009

[Book Review] THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb


Andrea Bledsoe reviews THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb (Harper Collins, 2008)

Okay, I am not going to lie. This was a difficult book to read. Not only is it 740 pages, it is also a very emotional story. Because I have already read and enjoyed Wally Lamb’s other fictional works (She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True), I knew I would enjoy his latest book.

Lamb has packed a wallop in The Hour I First Believed. Told from the point of view of Caelum Quirk, it the story of a national tragedy and how a couple deals with it. Caelum is a former Columbine High School teacher, and Maureen, who Caelum terms his “three strikes and you’re out” wife, is the part-time school nurse. The couple has had their share of martial problems-including infidelity and abuse- but after the Columbine Massacre, their problems seem trivial.

Lamb does an excellent job of blending historical facts with fiction. Using police archives, journal entries from Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and other documentation, Lamb places Caelum and Maureen right in the thick of tragedy. Although the couple escaped from the massacre physically unscathed, the emotional aftermath they face is torture in itself.

This book is an emotional one, without a doubt, but there are laugh-out-loud passages, too. I also enjoyed the author’s placement of characters from his previous work throughout this novel. If a reader can make it through the bulk of 740 pages, I honestly think he or she will be better for reading such a heartrending story.

Andrea Bledsoe, Poplar-White Station Branch Library


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