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When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, a school nurse, 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 at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. 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, and further tragedy ensues.

Topics: War, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Prisoners, Stress, Grief, Death, Marriage, Addiction, Prison, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq War, Trauma, Suicide, Adultery, Guilt, Mental Illness, Love, Family, Secrets, Colorado, Connecticut, 1990s, 2000s, Tragic, Psychological, Heartbreaking, Haunting, Dark, Dramatic, Realism, First Person Narration, Epic, American Author, Male Author, and 21st Century

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061980312
List price: $10.99
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I LOVED the beginning. The story was so intense and it just really drew you in...but then it started to get a little drawn out. Then the ending...and it was SO SAD. I'm just over books that don't have happy endings. I would like some smiles.more
Wow. I don't know what to say. It took me nearly 2 weeks to read this huge book and i am glad I bought it.

I did not know beforehand what it was about so I started to wonder after reading 1/3rd of this book, where is he going with this? And I have been wondering ever since lol. I don't know. It go's all over the place. In one way nothing really happens but in the other everything happens. it is hard to explain and to be honest, I still don't know if I liked this book that much.more
An unabridged audiobook.more
To me, this is a masterpiece. It was recommended by my father, who said at the time 'It's a wonderful book, and a terrible book'. While I was reading it, I was completely absorbed and didn't want it to ever end. But because the subject matter revolves around post-traumatic stress in the wake of Columbine, it was so harrowing in places that once I put it down it was daunting to pick up again. So it took me weeks to read. Everything in it is beautifully depicted, and the way he builds ideas up gradually without ever spoon-feeding the reader is something I enjoyed enormously. I can't think of when I've read a more impressive novel, and the central character, Caellum, will be with me for life now, much like William Boyd's Logan Mountstuart. When it's on form, this is a 10/10, but I personally felt it was 200 pages too long, and for this reason I've given it 4 stars.more
Read all 90 reviews

Reviews

I LOVED the beginning. The story was so intense and it just really drew you in...but then it started to get a little drawn out. Then the ending...and it was SO SAD. I'm just over books that don't have happy endings. I would like some smiles.more
Wow. I don't know what to say. It took me nearly 2 weeks to read this huge book and i am glad I bought it.

I did not know beforehand what it was about so I started to wonder after reading 1/3rd of this book, where is he going with this? And I have been wondering ever since lol. I don't know. It go's all over the place. In one way nothing really happens but in the other everything happens. it is hard to explain and to be honest, I still don't know if I liked this book that much.more
An unabridged audiobook.more
To me, this is a masterpiece. It was recommended by my father, who said at the time 'It's a wonderful book, and a terrible book'. While I was reading it, I was completely absorbed and didn't want it to ever end. But because the subject matter revolves around post-traumatic stress in the wake of Columbine, it was so harrowing in places that once I put it down it was daunting to pick up again. So it took me weeks to read. Everything in it is beautifully depicted, and the way he builds ideas up gradually without ever spoon-feeding the reader is something I enjoyed enormously. I can't think of when I've read a more impressive novel, and the central character, Caellum, will be with me for life now, much like William Boyd's Logan Mountstuart. When it's on form, this is a 10/10, but I personally felt it was 200 pages too long, and for this reason I've given it 4 stars.more
Ug. I give up. I hate this main character. I just don't like who he is and his outlook on life. I guess since it's over 800 pages that made the 250 that I got through seem not that far into it. I just had a feeling that it wasn't going to get any better.

I'm disappointed. Wally Lamb usually moves and challenges me to reflect. Not this one.more
Wally Lamb's new book examines life from the "glass half empty" perspective, with a mostly thoroughly unlikeable lead character. From childhood abandonment to Columbine to September 11, 2001, to vehicular manslaughter and everywhere in between, it's hard for the reader to catch their breath.

I was rapt, however -- until Lamb bogged down his story unnecessarily with old family histories. I nearly quit reading three quarters of the way through during an impossibly dull section of old letters, and finally just thumbed on through to the end of them to get back to the story at hand. Interesting to note that even without having read a large portion of this "back story," the primary one still managed to resonate.

I am only able to give this one 3 stars, although in parts it rose to a 4 star level. The fact that there were numerous 1 star levels as well is what did this one in.more
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