Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: The Hour I First Believed

Wally Lamb is the author of one of my favorite books: She's Come Undone. Obviously I couldn't resist buying his newest novel. I think I like his novels because he writes about people who have real problems. This novel is quasi-fictional and deals with two fictional characters dealing with the very non-fictional massacre at Columbine high school.

The main characters are a teacher at Columbine and his wife who is the school nurse. He is away dealing with the death of a close relative when the massacre happens and his wife is one of the people who was in the library but managed to survive by hiding in a small cupboard. The rest of the book details the aftermath of this event on their lives and those around them. His wife develops chronic long term post traumatic stress disorder. They decide to move. Therapy is involved. He works numerous jobs to try and keep up with therapy costs and the loss of her income since she is no longer capable of working.

I have to say that I liked the book but it's a tough read. It was a bit hopeless, sad and futile. I also didn't really care for the ending it. I had one of those, "Really!? That was it?" moments. I also wasn't crazy about the subplot about the husband's family history. I have to say that a lot of research went into creating this book and probably someone more interested in American history would enjoy it more.

It's a long book so there were definitely a few quotes that caught my eye.

"Religion's just a well-oiled, profit-driven denial of the randomness of it all."

"It reminded me that they were more than just their scholarly shortcomings and gripes about the workload. Each had a history, a set of problems. Each, for better or worse, was anchored to a family."

"Our ancestors move along with us, in underground rivers and springs too deep for chaos to reach."

"A woman who surrenders her freedom need not surrender her dignity."

If you've never read a book by Lamb I would recommend you bypass this one and read one of his other novels instead. It seemed like he probably put the most work into this one, however, it seemed to lose some of it's heart in the process. Or maybe there is such a thing as too much tragedy happening to good characters.


Carter said...

Has this been turned into a movie? Or a movie based on a somewhat similar plot of school tragedy? I seem to recall seeing a preview for it somewhere.

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