When I picked up The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb, I had no idea the intensity of the book that I was picking up. Not to mention, I really didn’t know what the book was going to be about at all! Turns out there are several different story lines, one dealing with the Columbine shootings and how it impacts the marriage of the main characters, Caelum and Maureen. Both are employees of Columbine high school but Caelum is called to his childhood home right before the shootings occur because of the death of his aunt. Maureen, on the other hand, is not spared the trauma of the day. As they fight to regain their marriage and sanity in the midst of the chaos, they move back to Caelum’s childhood home. This leads to a series of events in which Caelum discovers the intriguing and somewhat sad history of his family. He struggles to make sense of what has happened to his life and where he has come from in the midst of more tragedy with Maureen.
The characters deal with difficulties from the very first page. There are so many tragedies and misfortunes that they encounter that you feel worn out just reading about their trials. It doesn’t feel like one more thing can go wrong, and yet, it does. If you like books that are unapologetically intense about difficult life circumstances, you will enjoy this book. If you’re looking for lighter fare, this is not the book for you. 7/10