The Hour I First Believed
By: Wally Lamb
This is the second Wally Lamb book I’ve read. I read “She’s Come Undone” a long time ago – I think when I was in high school and to be honest, I can’t recall very many details about that book. I probably need to read it again. I do remember that it was about some very traumatic and sad things. So I went into this second book kind of expecting some grizzly events and Lamb certainly followed through.
“The Hour I First Believed” spans several years (I want to say 15-20 years) of a man’s life. This man has a connection to the Columbine shooting and that event basically shapes and drives the course of the rest of his life. As you can imagine, it doesn’t exactly shape it in a positive way.
The main character, Caelum Quirk ,is very well-developed by Lamb. He isn’t perfect and his tone and sarcastic nature come across very well in the book. His anger can also be distinctly felt by the reader. I felt like his wife, Maureen, wasn’t as well-developed and I wasn’t able to connect with her as much.
If you ever thought you got a raw deal in life, please read this book and you will probably feel a little bit better. Every time something bad happened in Caelum’s life, I thought that was going to be the end of it. That was the last blow and now he was going to have a chance to start putting the pieces of his life back together. Umm, no. It pretty much stays tough for Caelum right up until the end of this book. I guess you could say that frustrated me. But maybe that was Lamb’s point; that in real life, the bad or difficult times don’t just come to an end forever, we will constantly have ups and downs and it’s unrealistic to think that at any point in your life the tough stuff will be over.
I will say that I thought for the most part, Caelum remained pretty positive in the face of such adversity. He definitely had his raw moments, but I always felt that he was going to pull through and work it out—he always made me believe (I know, how cliché right?).
Overall, I definitely recommend this book. It’s a long one with 700+ pages, but when you’re taking a journey through a decent chunk of a person’s life, you can’t expect it to be quick and easy. I wouldn’t say it’s a feel good book, but it might just make you appreciate some of the things in your life a little more as you work your way through the catastrophes in Caelum’s.