I know Mr. Lamb has been sitting on a big pile of cash for the last ten years, but he should have written the four books he apparently started instead of shoveling them all into this one. I wanted to beat myself with this book half-way through in the hopes my husband would take it away and throw it in the trash. This was a complete disappointment. Lucky for you all you are getting it free rather than to waste your hard earned money on this train wreck of a book.
The critic reviews of this book were less than outstanding. I honestly don't understand why. Yes, this book covers several stories at the same time, and yes, parts of it seem to blast out unexpectedly. But isn't that how the real world works? Things you never expect come flying at you and the average person juggles several different concerns at a time. You have to pay attention to this book, it isn't a fluffy filler like a grocery store paperback romance. But Wally Lamb has always gone off on tangents, so this shouldn't surprise anyone. Worth the energy it takes to appreciate a good book.
I love Wally Lamb books, and this was no exception. It is over 700 pages, but keeps your interest all the way through. There is the story of the couple whose lives are uprooted by the wife's being involved in the Columbine massacre and her PTSD, (the "main" story), the one about the husband's family life and illustrious heritage as the descendent of a crusader for women's rights and prison reform, the one about Velvet, another victim of Columbine,(but messed up before that), who comes to heal through her association with Maureen and Caelum, the protagonists in the "main" story. Then there is the story of family secrets and illegitimate birth, alcoholism and "love addiction", mores of the 19th century, and on and on. It is like life, ongoing and complex, with multiple influences intertwined and impinging on each other. Read it!
If you didn't like Lamb's second novel and loved his first (She's Come Undone), give him another chance with this one. It is a long read, but well worth it. No, it isn't quite the greatness that Undone was, but it gets close.
Lamb definitely does travel some historical ground in this one, from the Civil War, abolition, suffrage to Columbine, the Iraq war and many other current events. As I said, don't think this is a speedy read that you will zip through. I definitely found it it a bit weightier than Undone.
Of course, now I am waiting for his next book. :)
I love the way Wally Lamb writes - he is amazing. This book was another well written book with great character development. However, it should have been broken into 2 separate books - he had some amazing tales to tell but it was way too much for one book. The Columbine shooting and the after effects could have made one really great book and the other story about the family history could have made another really interesting book. I was tempted to give up the story midway because it just didnt seem to know where it was going and I was getting frustrated, however, a friend told me to persevere and I am glad I did. So, if you are in the mood for a very a very long story with many subplots, twists and turns then you will love it. Also, if you have read his book about women in prison,Couldn't keep it to myself, you will find that that was a big influence on this book.