Customer Reviews for

The Hour I First Believed

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

Wonderful

This book is a testament to our past and future.
From Columbine, 9/11, Katrina, Iraq, the story relates the collateral damage done that no one acknowledges. An emotional but fulfilling read.
Don't miss it

posted by maggieNJ on November 18, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Very Dissappointed

I could not wait for Lamb's new book. I was very dissappointed--I had to trudge through it. The main characters are not likeable at all. I never really felt for either of them, they are both extremely selfish. I perked up when I started reading about the other famil...
I could not wait for Lamb's new book. I was very dissappointed--I had to trudge through it. The main characters are not likeable at all. I never really felt for either of them, they are both extremely selfish. I perked up when I started reading about the other family ( with the divorced mom and 2 sons) but that part was too brief. I think Lamb's overall idea for a plot was good but this story is too long and too convoluted. I just kept asking myself " how much more can happen to these people?"

posted by MarefitzyMD on December 11, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2008

    Wow! Wally Lamb does not disappoint!

    Just as everyone else did, I excitedly awaited the arrival of this book. Wally Lamb had done it again...he's written a riveting story! The characters were very interesting. I loved how Caelum learned about his family history. It was all fascinating. My eyes were opened to the PTSD the Columbine survivors experience. Thank you, Mr. Lamb. Nothing else I read this year will be this well-written.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    My first Lamb experience

    This was my first read by Wally Lamb. I thought it was a very emotionally gripping book. I didn't want to put it down or for it to end.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Well worth the read

    I was anxious to read Wally Lamb's new book and was thoroughly engrossed right from the beginning. Lamb's description of the Columbine tragedy was so poignantly depicted, that I felt a deep and emotional connection to the event and its victims.

    There are many twists and turns and surprises that are totally unpredictable and serve to make the book hard to put down. Its length is a bit daunting but Lamb expertly pulls you in and, before you know it, you're halfway through the book and looking forward to the second half.

    Readers beware...this is not a "feel good" book as it explores painful and difficult issues but well, well worth the read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2009

    If you are a fan of Wally Lamb this is a must read...very intriging with a surprize at the end

    Jodi Picoult addressed this topic in 19 minutes...Wally Lamb chooses a different perspective and takes the reader on a very vivid journey

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    Good read

    Liked this book, but at times the descriptions seemed long winded and at times pointless. I particularly enjoyed the added plot that involved the "research", it added another dimension to the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Multi-layered characterizations

    Wally Lamb's novel explores how relationships change over time and how all our experiences affect those we love. Tackling the Columbine school tragedy was a tall order but Lamb handles the overwhelming emotion with confidence and empathy. Several subplots display the muliple dimensions in the personalities of the main characters. I finished this book feeling like I really knew these people. This rather lengthy book is well worth the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Columbine Reconsidered

    Sadly, school violence has become a sign of our times. Gone are the days of schools being a safe sanctuary for our young. Wally Lamb bravely tackles this intense issue in his latest novel. Centering on the horrific killings at Columbine, The Hour I First Believed is an epic tale of loss and redemption.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2009

    he started a ball rolling...

    In the end, when the author is starting his acknowledgments and admitting that he struggled to begin a book that he had contracted for, all I could picture was Oprah stalking him. This book has Oprah salivating, I'm sure. I'm glad Oprah has gotten her audience reading a more diverse range of literature. I am.<BR/>It's a good book, and worth reading, and my discussion from here on out may be spoilerish...<BR/>My thankfulness to the embracing of a middle aged quasi-atheistic/agnostic character and the struggles that go along with that. When religion (especially organized religion) has left so many people disenfranchised or injured, the lack of faith makes it difficult to cope with some of the types of issues with which this character deals. That disenfranchisement in this character shows up in him being an a--hole and alcoholic, although his imperfections are embraceable. He travels through his pain, he grows. <BR/>I identify with the rather generic sense of missing the real stories of my ancestors. The fun stuff, you know, mental illness and hidden pregnancies. Plenty of this stuff in my way back family history, so this book felt like a surrogate family tree.<BR/>Now, Mr. Wally Lamb, this is what we need in our culture, our country: a mainstream god-less, love-full organized but not organized religion but religion, to help every person who deals with trauma get through the PTS phase ready to go back to life being a cup half full mentality. Faith without god. And please, no feedback from the Unitarian Universalist community. You haven't been able to crack into the gold mine of people out there who want to come out of the Jesus closet. <BR/>I'm not a goofball, I'm not being sarcastic. I honestly see a big pit of nothingness within the human soul in our culture, our country. Science and modern insight into the insanity of the Christian story, along with pedophile priests and book burning, proscribed life by guilt, have cast enough of a shadow on Christian values and faith, that people don't know what to do under stress. <BR/>And this book does a beautiful job of bringing that to light, but I've thought about it all enough already, I'm just not sure where to turn from here. Maybe Mr. Lamb's next book can take us there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2008

    Up till 4am reading

    While I believe the ending left something to be desired I can say I enjoyed this book. The historical references thrilled me. Meeting Lousia Alcott & Nikola Tesla at dinner parties and at work had me searching for other historical figures. <BR/>I also enjoyed meeting other Wally Lamb characters. Dr. Patel & the Bridsey twins are featured. <BR/>Read it! You will become a believer yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I Really Enjoyed This Book!

    Not only were the plot twists and turns relevant to today's life in the United States, but the characters were interesting too. Very different approach to everyday life. This is definitely a book every adult should read...especially if you have gone through a drama or two in your own life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Beautiful Story by a Gifted Writer

    I've been looking for Wally Lamb's next book since the day I turned the last page on my copy of "She's Come Undone." It's been a long wait. And when I finally got my paws on "The Hour I First Believed", I devoured it. Stayed in bed all weekend, reading. The book was captivating. The characters were so strongly developed that I feel like I've known them for years. My only compliant is that I was bogged down by the family history. Admittedly, I found myself skipping over a lot of it in order to return to the story at hand. (I did go back and read it later, though.) Mr. Lamb's blend of fiction and non-ficition allow for a lot of personal reflection on how we choose to live our lives in response to tragedy and loss. This is definitely a book for our times.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Very good read

    Not as extraordinary as his first two novels, but still well worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Good read

    By far one of the best books I've ever read. Wally Lamb does not spare his readers from reality, there is no happy ending just like there usually isn't one in life. He puts the columbine tragedy in the perspective of a person who suffered second hand the events.

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  • Posted November 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Caelum Quirk and his third wife, Maureen, want to ┬┐start over┬┐ a

    Caelum Quirk and his third wife, Maureen, want to “start over” after she was unfaithful with an associate who lived in their hometown.  They enter marital therapy with a gifted, caring, Spiritually aware therapist and succeed in determining the best direction for the “what’s next” of their life together.  One major component of that plan is relocating and they select the Colorado town near her father (who abandoned her as a teenager and whom has married someone almost her age). Caelum, a high school English teacher, “Moe” a Registered Nurse and both are employed at a place that became infamous on 20 April 1999 – Columbine High School.  Moe is at school when the shootings occured, “Ca” was “back home” taking care of family business.  When a book begins with a shattered marriage and progresses to one of the most horrific events in U. S. History and the reader is drawn to continue reading, one is aware that what is being read is a representation of exceptional writing.
    After the event at Columbine, the life planned by the Quirk’s begins a shift that will end with Caelum seeking what he wants but finding what he needs and Maureen being where she needs to be when she needed to be there.  The book is told from the first perspective of Caelum and the story could be seen as a record of repeated loss, however, what he discovers in his “quest” underlines the truth of the proverb, “to receive something new, something must be released.”  He discovers a trove of family history in his inherited Connecticut farm house and this gives the book, and his journey, the perspective of being connected beyond the present moment – what happened years ago can (does) affect today’s decisions and actions; what occurs today is tomorrow’s hope.  Caelum wants to find “solitude” but actually tries to isolate himself from life and eventually finds the inner stillness he seeks when he learns that such quiet is a matter of attitude, not environment.
    There is a lot of harsh language, graphic depictions of violence (the events of Columbine being the major source of these descriptions), some unhealthy sexual moments and a lot of emotional manipulation to be found in this book.  There is little lightness or comfort to be found in the majority of this read. Were it not for the superior writing, remarkable pacing and surprising plot twists, I would have to report this book as being written by a depressive whose favorite pet had just died.  The more I reflect upon the book, however, I found that the work is an affirmation of living, even when life is difficult, unfair, filled with random evil and evil chosen.  Caelum is as vile, saintly, impatient and long-suffering as any character in literature or as is anyone who may read this novel.  His actions underscore and pay homage to that curiosity that is being “normal.”
    This book is not listed as one of Wally Lamb’s renowned works.  With writing this good and a story this compelling, I am intent on reading those works for which he IS well noted.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    Possibly His Best Book So Far!

    The Hour I First Believed is not so much a book to get lost in, but a book that you experience. It is similar to driving cross country with Caelum Quirk as he streams a narrative of his life. You don't need to say anything... just ride and listen.

    You can always count on Wally Lamb to create characters that are real. Some are more likeable than others, but without question real.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    Excellent!

    This book was a sad but enjoyable book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2011

    Very good

    I really liked this story...........I like everything written by Wally Lamb. He is one of my favorite authors! Highly recommended.

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    I liked it

    Good book. Not as good as I Know This Much Is True, but that is to be expected as that is one of the best books written in my time. It does follow several different plot lines, so if you don' t like that, this book probably isn't for you. I found it very interesting and disturbing, as most Wally Lamb books are. A very interesting portrayal of the affects of Columbine....

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  • Posted May 4, 2011

    rambling but enjoyable read

    this is a long and complex story with many characters and strange plot twists which don't all seem necessary to the central theme of forgiveness, faith lost and then found. overall i found the characters to be welldrawn and the story compelling. unlike some other reviewers I didn't dislike the characters, nor do I expect fictional characters to all be likable. I especially enjoyed how the auther connected this book to his previous book.

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  • Posted April 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Your Life Will Look Pretty Good, Believe Me!

    The first thought that comes to mind when I ponder this book is that just when I think that nothing else could possibly go wrong for this couple, it does. The story follows Caelum and Maureen Quirk, both staff at Columbine High School, through the tragedy of the shooting and the ensuing years as they struggle to come to terms with their emotional aftermath.

    I am really torn between listening to the other Wally Lamb book on my TBR or reading it in print, because I think that a good portion of what drew me into the story was the flawless narration of George Guidall, who also does Lamb's I Know This Much Is True. Every character gained such personality and presence through his skillful recitation, and I wonder if the writing would, on its own, be quite as powerful.

    At times the story line seemed on the verge of going just that little bit beyond the realm of credibility, yet because I felt invested in the characters, I followed along out of curiosity.

    As with several books that I have reviewed, I feel the need to post a language warning for this one: some might find the profanity a tad excessive. The author even apologized to his grandma in the endnote for his language, explaining to her that he felt it was necessary for character portrayal. Despite my dislike of this type of vocabulary, I would have to say that I agree with him in this case.

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