The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I thank my good sense for only paying $4 for this book from Value Village. Thank heavens for discounted used books.
I had high expectations for The Hour I First Believed simply because I had heard so much about the author Wally Lamb. Many people had recommended She's Come Undone (probably won't read it now) to me and I mistakenly thought that he was a solid writer.
No, no, no. This is one the most depressing books I have read, thus added to my "Books to Never Read Again" shelf.
The premise: the main character Caelum Quirk works as a teacher at Columbine High School along with his wife Maureen who is the school nurse. Simple enough. One of his family members dies and he travels alone to be present at the funeral. Meanwhile, Maureen goes in to work on the fateful day that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris rampage through the school killing several teenagers, leaving many injured and suffering.
Maureen survives through the shooting (barely) and begins an inevitable and slow spiral downward. Caelum finds himself at his wit's end and decides to move to the family farm in Connecticut to begin over.
Clearly any reasonable person could have told him that you bring all your pain and suffering with you, the burden of memories that you are consigned to carry. Maureen never fully recovers and ends abusing narcotics and eventually goes to jail.
Meanwhile Caelum rents out some rooms in the house for extra money and begins looking into his family history, which turns out to be surprising and much more than he anticipated.
Here's the biggest problem: there was too much going on. This is a MASSIVE novel at 768 pages and the entire second half focuses on his family history, which let's get real, no one cares about! The main story of Caelum suffers from lack of attention. No one wants to read the narrator's POV at the young age of 8, least of all me who suffers from a severe lack of patience when it comes to poorly edited books.
In the end there is no redemption. Lamb throws in the statement "and this was the hour I first believed" in the last chapter, but the I was left asking, "believed what???". The book fails to pull itself together and leaves the reader A) wondering what they just read and B) contemplating the hours they just lost of their life for a book that never came through.
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