The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First Believed

by Wally Lamb

Debbie Weiss (04/22/12): This is the first book I have read by Wally Lamb and I really enjoyed it. I agree with everything Arlene, Wanda and Judy have said previously about both the book and the author. In 700+ pages, we really get to know all the characters very well. We care for them, even with all their flaws and frailties. Caelum Quirk is the main character and in spite of all the obstacles that cross his path during his life, he is a survivor. I look forward to reading this author's other books now.
Rating: *****

Arlene Almas: I'm in agreement with Judy and Wanda - I found this book well written, with strong characters, and backed by a historical context that gives weight to the narrative. I will definitely be looking for other books by this author.
Rating: *****

Kim Sisto Robinson: The first book I read by Wally Lamb was "She's Come Undone," which I found quite exceptional. I wondered how a man could write so eloquently and exquisitely from a woman's point of view about such issues as body image, relationships, and sex. After that, I was hooked on Lamb.

But..."The Hour I First Believed" did not deliver. Yes, it was good, but good is not enough. A woman with a schedule, kids, a full time job, and other family duties does not have the time or the inclination to read something that is merely good. She desires something to blow her tights off, something that she can call her girlfriends about and declare, "YOU�VE GOT TO READ THIS BOOK CUZ MY TIGHTS JUST BLEW OFF!"

Lamb had me enthralled in the beginning of "The Hour I First Believed." I was intrigued by the main character's relationship with his wife, the betrayal, the flirtation and the boldness of one of his student's, Velvet...and then, the build up to the school shooting. And just when everything was flowing along rather nicely, Lamb decided to transform the book into an historical epic: weaving to and fro into a damn world event seminar, a history lesson about Katrina, 911, terrorism, Columbine, women's rights, and slavery. I couldn't keep up with the story line and chaos and dull characters, and in the end, I just didn't give a damn; I wanted to be finished with "The Hour I First Believed," and go throw a load of clothes in and make dinner.
Rating: ***

Wanda Cohen: I agree this is a long read. I too kept wondering what else could happen to this poor man. You know it's a complicated, involved, epic, novel when something as huge as the Columbine shootings is just a part of the plot. I can see this book becoming a modern classic that teachers will require their students to read. The students couldn't get a better picture of history from the human side of events, not just the report of facts. Wally Lamb is one of the best writers today and he doesn't disappoint in this book. The 700+ pages reflect nine years of research and skill as a master storyteller weaves many major past and current events into the flow of the life of one man. Read it because it will open your eyes to how human we all are in good times and when times are the worst we can imagine them to be. I never wanted to be placed in the library when Eric and Dylan walked in with their guns, but that's exactly where I found myself while reading this book. You will find yourself wanting to put the book down, just for a break, but you can't because you want to find out what happens next.
Rating: *****

Judy Stanton: I'm a "serial" reader when it comes to authors whose books I've enjoyed; unless the books start taking on a "formula," I expect great things. Wally Lamb, who wrote one of my favorites, "I Know This Much Is True," didn't let me down. It took him 9 years to write this book and there were times I thought it was going to take me 9 months to read it.

It is LONG, 700+ pages. At times, I had mixed feelings about the storyline. I thought, "What else can happen to this poor guy?" believing that the protaganist just had too many tough breaks in his life. But, I couldn't wait to get back and read more to find out.

The book was written during the past nine years when there were pretty traumatic things happening, and Wally Lamb addresses many of them -- Columbine, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina. He brings them to life with true-to-life personal reactions. The book is also a family saga, reflecting back on ancestoral history as almost a story within a story, with many interesting "skeletons in the closet." If you decide to read this, have patience, stick with it, and you will be glad you did.
Rating: *****

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