The Hour I First Believed: A Novel

Paperback | August 4, 2009

byWally Lamb

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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.

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From the Publisher

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 i...

Wally Lamb is the author of four previous novels, including theNew York Timesand national bestsellerThe Hour I First BelievedandWishin' and Hopin', a bestselling novella. His first two works of fiction,She's Come UndoneandI Know This Much Is True, were both number-oneNew York Timesbestsellers and Oprah's Book Club selections. He lives ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:768 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1.23 inPublished:August 4, 2009Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060988436

ISBN - 13:9780060988432

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Customer Reviews of The Hour I First Believed: A Novel


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another beautiful tome by Wally Lamb Wally Lamb's "I know this much is true" is one of the books that re-introduced me to my love of reading. In "The Hour I First Believed" Lamb continues with his tradition of creating beloved characters that the readers cannot help but develop such sympathies and compassion for them. Set against the backdrop of the fateful and tragic day of the Columbine shooting, Lamb takes a historically significant event and shows how it impacts the lives of others in ways most readers could not even dare imagine. This book is written by Lamb in a similar fashion to the two others I've read of his - by using history and the past of the characters to help the reader understand their background and gain a greater sense of why we should cheer for these protagonists. As usual, Lamb writes a heart wrenching novel, in which the reader can develop an intimate encounter with the protagonist, so much to the point that when tragedy befalls the main character, the reader cannot help but feel sad and want to support the main character. Interspersing the history of Caelum Quirk's family with his present day challenges, you can really feel like you can really get to know Caleum, even better than some of us may know some of our closest friends. #Plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page Turner! I really enjoyed this book. The characters seem so real that you can't help but be drawn into their lives and their expereience.
Date published: 2015-02-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Page Turner! I so wanted to love this book, as I have all of Wally Lambs others. But I couldn't stomach it. The main character was so unlikeable, the story went nowhere and chapters ranted in endlessly. This book was a huge disappointment. I couldn't even be bothered finishing it.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazingly written I love how wally always merges his books. Fantastic piece.
Date published: 2013-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazingly written I love the writing style if Waly Lamb. I find his characters so life life that you can feel the story. This story is basis on the Columbine attacks but not a historical view. It tells a story of a teaching and lives trying to move forward.
Date published: 2013-11-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Long and dark but deeply satisfying read. At a half a dozen different times while reading this book I found myself yelling out loud- not another one (crisis-death-plot line)! However in the end it was worth the journey-time and effort. Lamb does not disappoint and reflecting on many of the historical events covered in the book was important and an opportunity to look back at events like Columbine and process it in a way that I hadn't done yet.
Date published: 2012-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! First I have to say I think Wally Lamb is one of the most gifted authors! His ability to not only write exceptionally well, but to tell exceptional stories never disappoints me. I read this novel for my book club, and I was really surprised to hear that I was in the minority who really loved this book. But love it I did! I was invested in these characters, I felt their pain, lived their struggles and mourned their losses. I LOVED this book!
Date published: 2011-03-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good depiction of the main event, but unfocused in all other aspects There were too many issues in this novel that, while reading, seemed unrelated. By the end of the novel, you are able to make your own connections to the many storylines, but there was too much text for what it was. I enjoyed "She's Come Undone", which is why I chose another piece from this author - sadly, it did not compare.
Date published: 2010-09-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An eye-opener I read both I Know This Much Is True and She's Come Undone years ago. So long ago, that I do not really remember much about the novels themselves, other than the fact that I quite enjoyed reading both, and that each was very long. I think the same will hold true for The Hour I First Believed. I very much enjoyed reading this story, despite how long it took me to read (I am a very slow reader, and this is a very long story!). At times I wondered where the story was going - it seems like event after event, climax after climax - I wasn't sure if I'd reached the turning point of the story, or if it was still to come. But don't get me wrong - it doesn't drag out the way you would think it might, based on that description. It's more like following a TV series over the course of its lifetime - each chapter (or TV season) brings on a new subplot and new details, but it all fits into the greater scheme of things, and by the end, you feel like you've lived alongside the characters for years. The story itself is fascinating - centering on the Columbine tragedies, and the posttraumatic stress that many of the living victims are likely still dealing with today. Lamb does a great justice by using the real victims' names and true facts from the day, but creating an otherwise fictional story that reads like a fascinating memoir. Every emotion, every reaction, every type of character - he has captured it all. Lamb really magnifies the way that many intricacies which are seemingly not connected at all, can actually all interweave, affecting many people all over a country. I found myself wondering how the slightest gesture or action might cause a domino effect of outcomes without the initiator even knowing. This story is a real eye-opener, and for days or weeks, or however long it takes for you to read - you will find yourself gripped and intrigued to the end.
Date published: 2010-05-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Needed a good edit... and the main character was a jerk. This book was too long and too many plot lines clouded the story. I felt like I was in "American Pie" with all the tag sentences.. "This one time? At band camp?" The characters spoke in tag questions, it drove me nuts. Not a good book, IMO.
Date published: 2010-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I May be in the Minority, But I Liked It! I avoided picking this up because of the luke-warm reviews but I found the premise interesting. The book covers a lot of difficult subject matter: Columbine, living with someone who has gone through trauma, The Prison System, family secrets etc. I found a lot of the characters completely unique and unforgettable, and the plot twists brilliant and interesting. I agree with people who said that they found the book dark. It was. But, isn't darkness something reflected in our world? The book made me think a lot, and had some uniquely modern moral dilemmas to debate. It was the kind of book that I brought up to friends and asked what they would do in the character's situation. So - if you are looking for something light to read over the holidays, don't pick this book. But, if you are looking to think, and look at difficult subject matter straight in the eye, read it!
Date published: 2009-12-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from ** Dont Believe The Hype***** I read both Shes Come Undone and This Much i Believe Is True. Both were fantastic books even though in their own right they dealt with difficult subjects. I am a big believer in an author making their main characters likeable in some respect so that you can buy into the story and feel for the outcomes. This story does not do this. His new book is just depressing from start to finish. I understand the need for writers to vent the national psyche and to deal with or help understand huge tragic events, but this book goes no where. Drug abuse, Columbine, lying, family secrets, etc it just went from one crappy theme to the next. It isnt entertaining and isnt insightful. I would not recommend this book.
Date published: 2009-11-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wonderful, but Could Have Been Half as Long... This is the first novel I have read by Wally Lamb, but I have always been interested in picking up She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True. He seems to get rave reviews from his readers. When I began to read The Hour I First Believed, the story went way beyond where I expected it to! The writing was addictive. I was glued to Lamb's clearly well researched writings on Columbine as well as the introduction to the Seaberry family. However, I was surprised by how the focus of the story turned from Maureen's trauma to Caleum's. And somehow I was left wondering what the point of all that I was reading was. After all, the novel is not exactly a quick read. And when I started it, I wasn't expecting to be reading about Lizzy Popper for 60+ pages. I actually found that portion of the novel to be long and drawn out. Therefore, as I got to the end (around Ch. 34 or 35) I was expecting Lamb to deliver one hell of a wrap up. I always enjoy when an author writes an ending that comes full circle from the beginning, and Lamb does this, but I was disappointed after all the buildup regarding Caleum's family that could really could have been omitted from the text, or certainly shortened.
Date published: 2009-09-05

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Editorial Reviews

“When you put Lamb’s newest novel down, it will be reluctantly. It’s that good.”