Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hour I First Believed

This is an amazing book! The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb is 723 pages long (hardback). There were a couple of reasons why I had not read it before. 1) it is always presented, at least it seemed to me, as a book about Columbine, and I just didn't want to read and revisit that horror, and 2) as much as I love long books, I find them incredibly difficult to read when I am reading in bed! Anyway, after having just read She's Come Undone, and having already have read I Know This Much Is True, I couldn't resist reading his latest work. And, boy, was it worth it! This book combines many of my passions...psychology, addiction and genealogy! [ok, addiction as a passion sounds pretty weird...just that working with addicted women was my life's work...]

Columbine is a central part of the story, especially the aftermath of Columbine. How being there plays into people's lives for always. Caelum Quirk (I love the name Caelum!) and his wife Maureen were teachers at Columbine. Caelum was gone the day of the shootings, tending to the death of an aunt out east, when he heard the news and got a flight straight back to Colorado and desperately searched for his wife. She had hidden in a cabinet in the library during the shootings and survived. However, the Post Traumatic Stress of that almost destroyed their lives.

Caelum and Maureen decide to leave CO and go out to the east coast to Caelum's family farm that he inherited from his aunt. As they struggle to make it there, addiction comes into play and wreaks havoc, as it will. Meanwhile, Caelum rents out the top half of the farm house to a couple escaping Katrina. The woman is working on a doctorate in Women Studies and begins (with Caelum's permission) to go through his grandmother's old papers. His grandmother had begun a local women's prison many years before, with the focus being "A woman who surrenders her freedom need not surrender her dignity." In the papers are letters dating back to the Civil War and forward in time. The papers begin to tell the story of who Caelum's parents were and how his family evolved into what it became.

This, as I said, was just an amazing book. I finished it yesterday and am still thinking about it.

In an afterword, the author said that it took him 9 years to write this book. Yikes. That sounds unbelievable, except that there is so much in the book, that I understand that it would take a long time.

I highly recommend the book if you haven't read it already! Now I am thinking that I need to re-read I know This Much Id True.


Anonymous said...

I tried reading "I Know This Much is True", but couldn't quite get into it. Maybe I'll give it another shot!

Susan said...

Interesting book! I have She's Come Undone still to read, but this one also sounds very interesting. I like genealogy too. Thanks for the review!