The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
This book is a tome. Something to read over a period of weeks or even months. And yet, Lamb writes in such a simultaneously accessible and beautiful style that it doesn’t feel like a chore. It is an elevating book. One that makes you feel like you’ve grown as a person after reading it.
The book begins with a timely setting: the shootings at Columbine. That plot line alone is enough to rivet the reader. But, Lamb merely starts here. In this way, the book is really a book for our times. Taking the loss of innocence of our young men as a major premise, Lamb then moves from the tragedies in Columbine to the east coast where a teacher flees after these tragedies, seeking shelter in his family’s Connecticut land after these Colorado happenings.
I do feel a kinship with Lamb since he is a Connecticut writer. Lamb’s main characters eek out a life in Connecticut despite their spiritual bankruptcy after the Columbine shootings. At this point, Lamb brings in history as backdrop to these characters’ lives. And then history even becomes something to interact with and comment upon these particular struggles of these modern-day characters who seem caught in a world where boys’ lives are squandered. Lamb’s scholarship as well as fiction techniques are high level. I recommend this book. It is one of the best books I have read in recent years.