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Publisher's Summary

When high-school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, 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 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.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers five generations' worth of diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in his family's house. As unimaginable secrets emerge, Caelum grapples with the past and struggles to fashion a future from the ashes of tragedy. His quest for meaning is at once mythic and contemporary, personal and quintessentially American.

©2008 Wally Lamb; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Where did my Wally go?

This certainly lacks the greatness of Wally Lambs other novels. If he wrote an outline or had a concept in mind, he sure got distracted. This book tells several stories at once and becomes tedious and unmercifully boring. By the latter part of the book, well into the civil war bore, I found myself skipping chapters. Oddly enough, one would want to feel sorry for the wife who was a victim at Columbine, but even she becomes a cliche. The main character is not terribly likable either, but that could be due to the narration which was the worst I had ever heard. The narrator sounds like a booze laden, smarmy old man who has a voice that would be better off narrating a book about a guy who lures children into his windowless van with the promise of candy. Thrown uncomfortably into the book is "humorous" banter between the main character and his long time friend. Though some of the comments are mildly amusing, they are mostly cringe worthy and seem pushed into the novel in odd places because the author felt funny that night or had a few drinks.

Overall....this is not a horrible read. It just drones on and requires someone who is easily entertained and has a lot of patience......and....has never read another Lamb novel to have to make the sad comparison.

  • Overall
  • Erin
  • Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
  • 08-11-10

Worth 2 Credits

I listened to this book on my commute to and from work. I found myself on more than a few days, sitting in my garage at home or the company parking garage not wanting to stop listening. The narrator was very easy to listen to and the story was excellent. Highly recommend.

  • Overall

The Hour I First Believed

I have listened to both this book and "I Know This Much Is True" and I'm not sure which I like the most. The writing is so clear and beautiful. The stories are fascinating. Some might complain that the novel contains 3 or 4 separate stories and that each could have been a novella itself. But I enjoyed every minute and did not lose track of what was happening. The narration was so good I kept forgetting that this was not Wally Lamb telling his own story.

  • Overall

Wally Lamb is my favourite author...

... and rightfully so!

  • Overall
  • L
  • Youngstown, OH, United States
  • 02-03-10

Wonderful story, poor narration

I disagree with the one of the reviewers who states that the characters weren't well developed. This book was extremely complex with the multiple weavings of fiction and history. The history is facinating and the method in which Wally Lamb draws everything together so the reader is able to see the connections with the modern day lives of the characters is brilliant.

I started listening to this book, but ended up using my magnifying glass and reading it. The narrator seemed to lack what I needed, which were the accents, pitch, and tone of the female voices. Otherwise, a great read, not such a good listen.

  • Overall
  • Bette
  • Truckee, CA, USA
  • 11-16-09


Well written and well read. I highly recommend this, especially if you have had any experience with mental illness in your family. Very realistic issues.

  • Overall
  • Virginia
  • fairfield, CT, United States
  • 03-23-09

One of the best ever!

I really enjoyed this book - it was one of the best I've ever listened to! Even though it is on the longer side, it is captivating beginning to end. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Hour I first Believed

This is a good book. It was not one that I couldn't put down but overall I enjoyed it. I was not expecting the language to be so vulgar in parts. It is definitely not for younger listeners.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Gearldine
  • Bonifay, FL, United States
  • 11-24-12

Worst Ever Book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Nothing, no book with such vulgarity would ever get such a rating from me.

What could Wally Lamb have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Left off the garbage.

Any additional comments?

I want my money back. I am accountable for the things that my mind contains to be true and moral. I do not consider myself to prude or self righteous but I can turn away garbage. I will never know if there is a great story there because it is overwhelmed by too much offensive information that is unnecessarily brought into the foundation of the story. Maybe had I known the author I would have been prepared for this. I will certainly remember to leave his work on the shelf of the "store" and get it out of my library.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

puhleeze . . .

I stuck with this book all the way through, but it really was a 1950s Queen-for-a-Day sobfest. Oddly, it didn't succeed in getting me to sob along with his characters, even though I'm a pretty light touch, probably because the characters weren't very well drawn. We know he CAN create good characters, because he has in other books and because there were several secondary characters in this book that were compelling. But the main characters either never jelled, or maybe I just never liked them. By the end, I was happy to see them suffer because I was tired of them and wanted them to go away.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful