Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Review Number Three

Once again, I'm ahead of schedule for my Book Club & have finished our book for March, The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb. Yippee!! New Year's Resolution still on track!

I wasn't that thrilled when I found out the book was based on the Columbine school shootings. Not a very uplifting topic. AND when I saw that it was 700+ pages...another turn-off. I'm sure I must be in the 5% of the population who doesn't LOVE Wally Lamb books, but they just remind me of a sappy Lifetime movie. 

The book alternates between several story lines - Columbine, the main character's family history (FULL of surprises!), and struggles between the main character and his wife. At times I was a little confused and found myself wondering how everything related. Something a little different was that Lamb used the real names of the shooters and some of the victims, but also throws in some fictional characters. The fictional main character (Caelum) comes into contact with the shooters early in the book, and his wife Maureen was among the people trapped in the school during the shootings. (But not really, because she's not REAL!) Oddly enough, it did make sense. The only part I skipped (I don't usually do that!) was the excerpt from the shooters' diaries & websites. I just couldn't go there.

I thought the book was a little heavy on the family history. There were several chapters of letters written by Caelum's grandmother to her sister. It got a little boring, but I kept reading since I knew they must somehow be important. There are some major surprises about the family, which I won't give away in case you haven't read the book!

The struggles between the Caelum & his wife seemed pretty realistic. Besides the normal everyday stuff, they had to deal with the wife's PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of the Columbine shootings, and an unfortunate incarceration of one of them (bet you can't guess who!!) Sadly, in the end they did not have a chance to resolve things and move on.

My gut reaction to this book is "eh," so I'm not sure I'd recommend it. Not for one specific reason, but a few. If it weren't so LONG, I'd say go for it. But the 700 pages combined with depressing subject matter and jumping from one topic to another made it pretty low on my favorites list. Strangely enough, I CAN see it being made into a Lifetime movie! :)

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