The Hour I First Believed is replete with weighty themes; Lamb's messages and questions about humanity will stay with readers long after they turn the final page. The novel is a character study, an investigation of humanity, and a mirror of our times.
The novel's title comes from the end of the second verse of one of America's most beloved hymns, Amazing Grace."T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. / And Grace, my fears relieved. / How precious did that Grace appear / The hour I first believed." This titular reference is in keeping with the novel's theme of redemption. Virtually all of the characters including Caelum, Maureen, Velvet, Janis and Moze seek some sort of redemption. Lamb closes the novel with the hour Caelum first believes; for Caelum, it is the confluence of past, present and future. It is the moment in which he first understands the connections between one's personal history with the history of the past and the history of humanity.
Through Lamb's depiction of Harris and Klebold, readers are reminded of man's capacity for evil and hate as they manifest in violence. Lamb allows readers to see violence from both sides: from the perpetrator's point of view and from the victim's. Through excerpts from Harris and Klebold's journals and transcriptions of their homemade videos, readers are forced to confront two very disturbed teenagers who are not only disenchanted with school but also, it seems, with the world at large. They boast about their access to guns, their plans for destruction and their desire to seek revenge on their classmates. Readers have no choice but to acknowledge that these boys were extremely angry and disturbed young men. Lamb's choice to include these primary documents for the reader's consideration is interesting; he wants to remind readers that although the story is a fictional one, the perpetrators of this terrifying act of violence were very real. This is underscored by Lamb's exploration of...
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