Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review: The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First BelievedThe Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I started this book I had no idea what it was about. I just heard it was good... plus I wanted to listen to a book narrated by the audiobook guru, George Guidall, just to see if he lived up to the hype. Ultimately I'd kill 2 birds with one stone by testing out a famous author and narrator at the same time.

Unfortunately I wasn't very impressed by either Lamb or Guidall. Guidall was just ok for me as a narrator. Not the best, not the worst. Lamb is going to take a little bit more explanation.

I liked how this book started out. It's told from the point of view of Caelum Quirk, a teacher living in Littleton, Colorado. Initially the story follows him and his wife, Maureen and their marital troubles. After reconciling following infidelity on her part, they begin to get their lives back on track. And then the Columbine shootings happen and everything goes to crap.

Maureen is a school nurse and is in the library when the shooters go on the rampage. Caelum is a teacher there but just happens to be out of town when the incident happens. The rest of the book is about how the couple deals with Maureen's PTSD (amongst MANY other things).

Now, had the book ended about 1/4 of the way through, or just focused on the Columbine incident, it would have been a decent story. But for some reason Lamb feels it's necessary to blend this story with all of the main historical events during an almost 10 year time period (Hurricane Katrina, Iraq war, etc.) as well as Caelum Quirk's entire family history (comprised of a million boring flashbacks). I never did figure out why he added the family history part in. Completely unnecessary. I felt like he just had a goal of writing a really long book.

I hear Wally Lamb has some other "good" books out there, but this yawner made me want to avoid them entirely. If I'd have had another audiobook on hand, I would have stopped listening around CD #5 instead of torturing myself by dragging through all 20. Glad to finally be done with this one.

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