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The Hour I First Believed Audiobook

The Hour I First Believed: A Novel

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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 Rating

4.1 (837 )
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  •  
    ValRGDC 09-10-12
    ValRGDC 09-10-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Great Story, Masterful Narration"
    Would you listen to The Hour I First Believed again? Why?

    The story was really captivating. I loved the author's telescoping victims' -- both from Columbine and other tragedies -- lives far into the future.

    When there are catastrophic events, those of us fortunate enough not to be at the center of it tend not to think about the long-term effect of those tragedies on victims' lives. This book centers on the husband of a Columbine victim, a victim himself once removed, but also explores the effect of war, Hurricane Katrina, and sexual abuse among other catastrophes on those who've lived through them.

    The story had lots of threads that were just so beautifully knit together that I couldn't stop listening.


    What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    George Guidall is absolutely gifted. loved that each character's personality was fully realized through his narration, and while each character had a different voice, the shift in speaker was fluid, subtle, and flawless.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clare B. Gerber Penfield, NY 09-03-12
    Clare B. Gerber Penfield, NY 09-03-12 Member Since 2015

    cbg

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    "A soul searching experieance."
    Would you listen to The Hour I First Believed again? Why?

    I will listen to The Hour I First Believed again because I was left with to many unanswered question for myself.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Caelum was my favorite character. He gets angry enough to question and analyzed what was happening and trying to find his fault (if any) in the outcome.


    What about George Guidall’s performance did you like?

    George Guidall is an A+ narrator. He makes you feel that you are as much a part of the story as the characters.


    If you could rename The Hour I First Believed, what would you call it?

    When Fear Takes Over.


    Any additional comments?

    The book for me was an emotional and spiritual therapist. I find at times I am Maureen cowering in the corner cabinet and then I transform to Caelum - and scream my way through the next few statements. When I am alone and in a quite room do I finally begin to "Why did I do that?"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Hollywood, SC, United States 05-23-12
    Caroline Hollywood, SC, United States 05-23-12 Member Since 2007
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    "A Gem of a Book!"

    I hestitated to buy this book when it first came out because of the Columbine shooting subject matter and because it sounded kind of depressing. And really, it kind of was depressing and dark starting out, but the great writing and character development were so exceptional that I kept listening. I don't want to go into too much detail so as not to spoil the story, but I will just say that it was a wonderful story of personal growth and redemption that has really stayed with me since I've listened to it. I think that John Irving fans would enjoy this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Schwartz Israel 05-08-12
    Sharon Schwartz Israel 05-08-12

    happy shopper

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    "as good as expected"
    If you could sum up The Hour I First Believed in three words, what would they be?

    like living history.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the struggle and awareness of psychological issues that have been brought upfront by the characters. the main character is so human , I felt I wanted to just hug and comfort him.


    What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    his ability to change roles according to what character he is reading for. he brings them all alive in a great way. It made we wonder how he actually recorded the book. it sometines sounds as if here are two people narrating.


    Any additional comments?

    can't wait for Wally Lamb's next book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JWB North Franklin, CT, United States 12-01-11
    JWB North Franklin, CT, United States 12-01-11 Member Since 2010
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    "So Happy I Got It!"

    I had not read a Wally Lamb book since She's Come Undone, many years ago. I enjoyed that tremendously, and decided that The Hour I First Believed sounded like an interesting premise and worth my time and credit. It was. I recently read the non-fiction book Columbine and I liked how this author wove the actual events with is fictional characters. He also included descriptions of local places in Eastern Connecticut that were sometimes changed and sometimes named correctly. I admit I was initially taken aback by the raw sexually oriented descriptions from the main character's viewpoint, but as I got into the book I appreciated why this was done. It is a complicated book but easily kept my attention, and I was sorry when it was over. Now I am anxious to revisit She's Come Undone. I am disappointed that I Know This Much Is True is only available in Abridged since I generally am not interested in that format.

    I always enjoy listening to George Guidall, and he does not disappoint in this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-29-11
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-29-11 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "powerful, intelligent novel about coming to terms"

    If you like your novels uplifting and concisely-plotted, The Hour I First Believed might not be the book for you. This is a big, ambitious work, seeking to tie together many aspects of the American experience of grief, from historic tragedies, to family dysfunction, to high-profile media tragedies and the individual stories lost in the noise, to the political marginalization of the imprisoned, to the quiet breakdowns that happen over years in the privacy of our own homes. From a less able writer, this would simply be too much stuff to cram into one story without a loss of effectiveness, but Lamb is an author capable of making you believe that, to the contrary, all these things can and do come together in the lives of normal people.

    Full of heartache and meandering trips into the past (a la Richard Russo), Lamb's work is about a complex, flawed everyman simply trying not to drown in his own shattered life, reaching out to any floating object that comes near, from therapists to alcohol to sex to his own family history to, finally, expressing himself directly to the reader. At times gut-wrenching (especially the depictions of the Columbine shootings) and at times heartfelt and beautiful, Lamb's writing is very honest. Having lost my brother to a drawn-out battle with cancer and witnessed the different responses of the remaining members of my family to the experience, I can say that the author understands the two-steps-forward-one-step-back process of moving through anger and grief. Like a man who buys a new car, then sees that model of car everywhere he drives, Lamb's protagonist, Caelum Quirk, begins to realize the extent to which everyone around him (or in his past) is living their own story of loss and survival. Through those connections, the story expresses a quiet, moving sense of hope.

    Readers of this book seem divided on Lamb's decision to cram so much tragedy into one book, to the point where it starts to seem arbitrary on the part of the author, like God raining down misfortune on Job in the Old Testament. However, I thought this was an intentional decision, meant to challenge the reader and perhaps the author, and I think it mostly worked. It's arguable that the book meanders a little too much, yet I found each sub-story compelling in its own right. I felt that they all fit together on a thematic level, providing an honest emotional history not just of Caelum, but of the ways we Americans face pain, when it strikes us and not just some anonymous stranger on the news.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Denver, CO, United States 07-07-11
    Mary Denver, CO, United States 07-07-11 Listener Since 2003
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    "Not his best"

    What started as an interesting fictional story about the Columbine tragedy, started to meander and was complicated by a long & tedious family history of the main character. That family history was necessary to bring the story together at the end but could have been cut WAAAAY down. I found myself half listening to those parts. And the family history parts were made even more tedious, because they were written in the manner of long ago, with never-ending, overly polite descriptions of every detail. I was glad when I finished it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa 12-31-10
    Melissa 12-31-10
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    "Disappointing"

    I loved Mr. Lamb's previous books She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True. This book was a major disappointment! The main characters are so self absorbed it is difficult to have sympathy for them. Their unending wallowing in self pity almost made the book too much to endure. I did finish the book with hopes these characters would redeem themselve but the ending was too little too late. I am still not sure exactly what Calem came to believe or if he even did come to believe much of anything.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Cypress, CA, United States 09-17-10
    Martha Cypress, CA, United States 09-17-10 Member Since 2005
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    "I wanted to like it, but..."

    By the time the second file started, I was bored with the story. Yes, it is about a terrible tragedy, but this is a fictional book and was doggone depressing. I wanted to like Caelem but he was pretty much an insensitive bastard. I wanted to like the book but it was just one thing after another and too much altogether.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    criticalbuyer criticalbuyer 09-16-10
    criticalbuyer criticalbuyer 09-16-10 Listener Since 2010
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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