Whew! (and wow)
I just finished The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. I could not put it down all weekend, and my biceps are a little more defined because of it.
This is big book, and big story, for sure.
I knew that its main focus was going to be about the Columbine tragedy, and how a husband and wife who worked at the school dealt with the aftermath. It was about that, and so much more. Through the main character, Caelum, I was able to ache for all of the victims of that and other tragedies that have happened in the years since. Even as Caelum built a wall of liquid resistance to all the pain, I still felt hope that somehow, all of this random violence would make some kind of sense in the end.
I suppose I had to believe that, in some way, to keep me reading a book that is so devastating. There were a few nights when I would have to read or watch something funny to get the images out of my head-- because, although this was a work of fiction, Columbine was all too real. Lamb's descriptions, and Maureen's (the wife in the book) reactions as a survivor have me living through the shock of it all. Finishing the book now made it all the more poignant. Tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of that tragedy. And, like much of the other tragedy that happens in this book, Columbine will always seem senseless.
And yet, Lamb's exploration of so many grim life tales still left me feeling somewhat hopeful. This is what good writing does. It lets us explore Life. It lets us question the Big questions. Sometimes there are answers. Sometimes there's just another journey waiting, so that we can keep on asking, keep on wondering.