I finished reading The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb last week. I have put off writing about it because there is not really anything I could say to truly do it justice. It was a wonderful book and incredibly dynamic. There were various layers that ended up coming together very nicely. Probably most impressive was the characterization. So many characters were so fully and completely developed. Oftentimes in books some of the fringe characters get left behind. That was not the case in this book.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the fact that the author created fictional characters around actual events. He blurred the line between fiction and reality and did it very successfully and effectively. The story opens with the tragedy of Columbine. Caelum Quirk, the main character, and his wife are both employees of the school: he as a teacher and she as a nurse. He is away in Connecticut preparing to bury his aunt, but his wife Maureen ends up hiding in a cabinet in the library during the shooting. Much of her experience during Columbine mirrors the account that Patti Nielson gave of her experience during the actual shooting. Whether or not Maureen is basely loosely on her is undetermined. The story explores the effect that Columbine had on its survivors and the often tragic consequences of living through such an ordeal.
This story line parlays into another story line that centers around Caelum's heritage. Fleeing Colorado after the event Caelum begins to uncover many secrets to his past. The book also explores the idea that you can never really escape the experiences of your life. Despite fleeing to Connecticut, tragedy continued to envelop Maureen's life and by extension Caelum's. They never truly recover, even years later, from the events at Columbine. Everything after that day is somehow effected by the events Maureen lived through at Columbine .
The book is 600 plus pages and I enjoyed each and every one. It was a book that really made me think about how certain things happen in our lives and those events, whether big or small, set into motion a series of events that will form our future. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone. It is definitely one of the best books I've read in a while.
Has anyone else read this book? If so, what did you think? What are you reading right now? I have just started The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.