This is my third foray into Wally Lamb’s world. I read She’s Come Undone years and years ago and remember liking it, but not much about it. I read I Know This Much is True and couple years ago and was absolutely blown away. I loved it. So, when I had to read a book about a difficult subject for this year’s reading challenge, I knew who to turn to. So far, every one of Lamb’s books cover some difficult subject, or ten, but this one in particular resonated with me.
Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, work at Columbine High School. Yes, that Columbine. Although, the Quirks are fictional characters, Lamb is using them as examples for what people went through after the tragedy. Caelum was out of town when the shooting occurred, but Maureen was in the library and heard everything that was said and done. Her PTSD becomes chronic, and she struggles with basic tasks.
These events happen only the first third of the book, so you know there is a lot more story to tell. The Quirks move back home to Connecticut to try and recover and returns to some form of normalcy. Along the way, they have major setbacks. I really enjoyed this story, but Caelum is really just a a giant asshole. It was a struggle for me to feel any kind of sympathy for him. He gets a bit better as the book progresses, and I know that no one is perfect, but he was really awful towards Maureen while she was struggling. There is a huge side story about Caelum’s ancestors that I didn’t find all that interesting. I admit that I skimmed much of that part (namely the letters his great-grandmother wrote.
Overall, I gave the book 4 stars, in spite of the above mentioned deficiencies, because I felt that it was a personal preference rather than a lack of writing ability on Lamb’s part. His books are rarely easy to read, tackling the most difficult of subjects, but he is a great storyteller and I look forward to reading his other books.