Wally Lamb (Harper Collins)

American writer Wally Lamb is no stranger to bestseller lists — his previous two novels topped the New York Times book chart, partly due to favourable reviews by Oprah Winfrey on her show.

In his latest novel, The Hour I First Believed, Lamb takes his usual introspective approach, with his characters forced to question how they look at the world.

Caelum Quirk is a teacher at Columbine High School, where his wife Maureen is a nurse.

While he’s called away to a family emergency, Maureen, is caught in the crossfire of two students’ vengeful attack at the school.

She’s unable to recover from the trauma, and the Quirks leave Colorado to seek refuge at Caelum’s family farm in Connecticut.

While here, Caelum discovers a cache of forgotten papers, which unearth family secrets and set him on a path of self-discovery.

There’s no mistaking that this is a novel of some magnitude — more than 700 pages long, it covers events from the American Civil War to 9/11 and tackles themes such as violence, psychology and redemption.

At times it seems too weighty to take in, but the novel’s emotionally rich characters and Lamb’s skill as storyteller will probably see him back on the bestseller lists again. JANINE JORGENSEN