The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
A Novel

56%

16 Critic Reviews

A clearer focus and a forgone subplot or two would have helped. Of interest, however, as an entry in the body of literature that has emerged from real tragedy.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. When Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family's Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.

 

About Wally Lamb

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Wally Lamb is the author of four previous novels, including the New York Times and national bestseller, The Hour I First Believed and Wishin' and Hopin', a bestselling novella. His first two works of fiction, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were both number one New York Times bestsellers and selections of Oprah's Book Club. He is the editor of Couldn't Keep It To Myself and I'll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for fifteen years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. The Lambs are the parents of three sons.
 
Published October 28, 2008 by HarperCollins e-books. 756 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Hour I First Believed
All: 16 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 12

Kirkus

Above average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Nov 15 2008

A clearer focus and a forgone subplot or two would have helped. Of interest, however, as an entry in the body of literature that has emerged from real tragedy.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Luisa Thomas on Dec 12 2012

It’s part picaresque, part Russian novel, part mystery.

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Gerianne Bartlett on Mar 30 2011

Overall, this novel is a decent read--if you can get through it.

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Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol on Jan 22 2011

Things perked up for me in chapter four, written in the very credible and interesting voice of the boy Caelum. I wanted to hear more of that voice, but never did.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Zack Handlen on Dec 17 2008

Hour follows the same vein as Lamb's previous two novels: melodrama that justifies platitudes via seemingly endless ugliness.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Tina Jordan on Nov 05 2008

Oprah fave Wally Lamb, best known for She's Come Undone, has delivered a tour de force.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Lionel Shriver on Dec 11 2008

His writing style is undistinguished, and so is his thinking; the combination leads to mind-numbing mediocrity.

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Christian Science Monitor

Below average
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp on Dec 20 2008

The emotional bruising isn’t the problem; it’s the fact that if Lamb had only held off on the disaster dogpile he could really have had something profound.

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Booklist Online

Above average
Reviewed by Joanne Wilkinson on May 01 2008

Lamb’s overlong narrative and endless recitation of tragedy dilute the power of his story.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Above average
Reviewed by Dixie Carter on Dec 08 2008

The last half of the book is all over the place, and, as a result, the story's intensity dissipates.

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Open Letters Monthly

Above average
Reviewed by Julie McGinley on Sep 01 2008

Life surely does go on, but to me, tragedy does not benefit those it touches. Unless we are fortunate enough to sell a book about it.

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The Seattle Times

Below average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Nov 28 2008

...as the story moves further along, its focus blurs and the relationship at the center fades away...this second half of the novel fails even as melodrama. It gets bogged down...In a move that ruins the engaging domestic story line, Maureen is pushed offstage when Caelum discovers in his attic a collection of 19th-century letters...

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Good
Reviewed by Cameron Martin on Dec 23 2008

Lamb asks worthy questions. Unfortunately for readers, he appears to have grown frustrated by his inability to answer them.

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Tampa Bay Times

Below average
Reviewed by Kit Reed on Dec 20 2008

It's as though the last novel in the world was leaving port, and he had to load everything on it and jump aboard, or die in the attempt.

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Boston.com

Above average
Reviewed by Kevin O'Kelly on Jan 15 2009

The true tragedy (if I may use the term) of "The Hour I First Believed" is that this could have been a wonderful book.

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Woman's Day

Above average
Reviewed by Angela Ebron on May 07 2010

Although there are many overlapping storylines packed into these pages, most of them work.

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Reader Rating for The Hour I First Believed
69%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 991 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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