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Download The Hour I First Believed: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Hour I First Believed: A Novel, by Wally Lamb Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (30,723 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Wally Lamb Narrator: George Guidall Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Part picaresque, part Russian novel, part mystery…Caelum is an unusual, provocative character, neither a hero nor an antihero but a regular guy experiencing both the tragic and the absurd. His tone is by turns funny, irritating, depressive, and sentimental—which is to say, recognizably human.

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[Lamb knows just how to let the details of a tragedy unfold without decoration or commentary. He’s a master at the kind of direct, unadorned narrative that brings these events alive in all their visceral power…This portrayal of a couple dealing with the asymmetrical effects of trauma is Lamb at his best, wholly sympathetic, deeply moving.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “A moving story…that seesaws between hope and despair.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A page-turner…Lamb remains a storyteller at the top of his game.”

    USA Today

  • “Audacious...profound and moving…A soaring novel as amazingly graceful as the  classic hymn that provides the title.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Lamb’s narrative…quickly pulls the reader into the lives of its characters…Lamb casts a wide net and hauls back themes both grand and personal…Lamb is exceptional in his exploration of the direct and indirect impacts of survivor guilt.”

    Denver Post

  • “Lamb does an extraordinary job narrating some of the most terrifying tragedies of the past ten years…This is an epic journey that ponders the inexplicable nature of tragedy and its terrible repercussions. Through the chaos, Lamb reveals a quiet thread of hope.”

    Rocky Mountain News

  • “Every character is rendered with vivid, utterly convincing depth…A heck of a page-turner.” 

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Wally Lamb is a remarkable talent…In his latest novel, he nimbly weaves real events, especially the Columbine school shootings, with the fictional story of Caelum Quirk.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “Lamb has crafted another affecting, engrossing tone about complicated, interesting characters.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “Lamb…has delivered a tour de force, his best yet.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Guidall’s performance makes for spellbinding listening.”


  • “Narrator George Guidall reads with an earnest, familiar voice. He draws listeners into this fascinating tale with nothing more than raw emotion and honesty; rarely does such a straightforward performance tap into the human psyche so effectively.”

    Publishers Weekly (audio review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller
  • Selected for the December 2008 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Taylor Beachy | 2/20/2014

    " I couldn't finish this book. Chapter 4 and I was as lost as two polar bears in a snow storm. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Auna | 2/18/2014

    " I'll preface this by saying that I LOVE Wally Lamb. I Know This Much is True and She's Come Undone are two of the best books I've ever read. I wanted to love this book, I really, really did and three stars might be a bit generous. It was a difficult book to get through. I don't mind that there were some tough issues covered in the book and I don't mind reading about them. It just felt disjointed, I didn't care about the characters (there were several points where I downright hated both of the main characters -- Caelum and Maureen, Maureen especially -- and honestly didn't care what happened to them). I was disappointed. Hopefully Lamb's next novel will be much more enjoyable to read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Erin | 2/14/2014

    " This is about Columbine. I just couldn't get into it and actually stopped reading it. Just too depressing a topic and way off topic sometimes for me. I am really suprised because I loved some of Wally Lamb's other books, but the last two I read were bombs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Daphne | 2/5/2014

    " This book tells another side of the story the effects of a shooting. I love Wally Lamb's writing his stories keep me reading all night long. "

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