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The Laments
 
by
George Hagen
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The Laments

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  620 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Meet the Laments—the affably dysfunctional globetrotting family at the center of George Hagen’s exuberant debut novel.

Howard is an engineer who dreams of irrigating the Sahara and lives by the motto “Laments move!” His wife Julia is a fiery spirit who must balance her husband’s oddly peripatetic nature with unexpected aspirations of her own. And Will is the “waif with a pa
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Published (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,095)
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Sharon Watkins
Aug 18, 2012 Sharon Watkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Will belongs to a family that moves. A lot. It is what the Laments do. They have moved from South Africa to Bahrain to Southern Rhodesia to England and then to New Jersey. His father is talking about moving on to Australia or maybe New Zealand, always looking for that perfect place where he will be able to realize his dreams. But for Will, it means he never feels like he belongs anywhere. And sometimes he wonders if he really belongs in this family, with his wild twin brothers, his permanently d ...more
Holly
Nov 30, 2015 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I expected to enjoy this book a lot as Will is very relatable to me; having lived in three different continents myself and having moved a lot. However this book was hard to concentrate on; I continuously avoided reading it. I don't know what else to say other than that it was a pretty good read but the writing style maybe didn't draw me into the story as well as I would have liked.
Dayna
Jan 30, 2013 Dayna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely, heartbreaking and funny novel this is! Many thanks to my friend Sharon for reading this book and sharing her review. I loved it.
Colleen
Jan 19, 2009 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This novel tracking the lives of a globe-trotting family paints a poignant picture of the expat lifestyle and the desperate quest to belong. Julia and Howard Lament are both trying to overcome the shortcomings of their upbringing, and find in each other all that they ever wanted. When their first bouncing happy baby is kidnapped by a troubled young woman in Rhodesia, they find themselves adopting her sickly premature son. Thus begins a life of uncertainty for both Julia and Howard as well as the ...more
Holly
Dec 27, 2014 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This is an odd sort of book. This story follows the Lament family and their trials and tribulations throughout their life. We first meet Howard and Julia. We find out about their past and what lead them to become married. Soon after Julia is with child and gives birth. However, trouble and tragedy strikes the Laments. This will be the first unfortunate event that will follow Howard and Julia throughout their life time. Soon the years go by, the family moves from country to country, and we get to ...more
Alisa
May 04, 2008 Alisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Hagen writes good prose, and this story is of a family that actually sticks together, bucking the trend that tragedy always leads to alienation, affairs, divorce, and rebirth with a new relationship.

It has some story flaws, to be sure, and the chapters are short and jump around quite a bit, but if you don't mind that (I don't) and you are interested in a story about people who can never quite belong where they choose to be, it's a decent read. The exploration of what you take with you whe
...more
Patty
Jul 07, 2007 Patty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a long time I didn't think I liked this book. It seemed too light, no real substance. I kept waiting for some major, tragic event to occur. (That shows what kind of books I've been reading lately!) Eventually the characters and the story grew on me, especially the main character, Will, who is a quiet, serious boy who was switched at birth and doesn't know it. Throughout the book the Lament family travels, always in search of a fresh start, a better job, and a better life. Each new home bring ...more
Anne
Oct 15, 2007 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of Howard and Julia Lament, originally from Southern Rhodesia. When their newborn son is stolen from the hospital, they reluctantly take another couple's child (Will) to raise as their own. They then proceed to move. From Africa to England to America - because, after all, that's what Lament's do. As Julia's irritating mother nags her from thousands of miles away, she gives birth to twin terrors and stands up for racial and gender equality. There is no real ultimate purp ...more
Mari
Nov 09, 2009 Mari rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This is an interesting book that takes you through the trials and tribulations of the Lament family. Living in Rhodesia at the beginning of the book, the Laments are struck by tragedy. Making the best of a sorrowful situation, they continue to thrive in this African country. When the battles over apartheid increase, Howard Lament decides it's time to move his family. As he says on numerous occasions, "We're Laments and Laments travel." Travel they do. The books takes you along on their journeys ...more
Nate's Bookgroup
The Laments was about a south african family who move from continent to continent every time things get a little rough where they live. It was more character driven than plot driven. Rather funny in spots, but not a lot of substance. It had a lot to say about the sacrifices we make every day to maintain relationships, but it did so in such a silly manner you couldn't really take what was being said seriously. There were some great moments when the family moved to America and felt obligated to pu ...more
N W James
May 08, 2007 N W James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookgrouppick
The Laments was about a south african family who move from continent to continent every time things get a little rough where they live. It was more character driven than plot driven. Rather funny in spots, but not a lot of substance. It had a lot to say about the sacrifices we make every day to maintain relationships, but it did so in such a silly manner you couldn't really take what was being said seriously. There were some great moments when the family moved to America and felt obligated to pu ...more
Estefania
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lucy
Sep 12, 2014 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this family story and found it interesting. I almost gave it four stars. In fact, I would have liked to have given it 3.5 stars.
Jennifer Hendzlik
"Laments travel."

The Laments are a dysfunctional but completely likable family from Rhodesia that find themselves living in Africa, England and America as they struggle with small issues such as identity, race, prejudices and tragedies. How they fall apart and put themselves together again is the core of this tome.

I am still wrapping my head around this book. There was nothing about it that grabbed me so strong I couldn't put the book down. But, at the same time I continued to pick it up and re
...more
Haythem Bastawy
May 04, 2013 Haythem Bastawy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the Laments, book and family; their travels, adventures and relationships. The South-African family are always on the move, in search for the perfect place and the perfect people. Refusing to accept bigotry and amorality is always their reason to move, and although they come across as righteous in a semi-prophetic way this righteousness always entertains the reader with humourous conversations and exciting explorations of new places.

The book is very different in its plot and unusual in
...more
Lesley-Anne
Feb 18, 2016 Lesley-Anne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-t-finish
Pick up this book and you will definitely lament ever second you devote to it. Now I have to figure out how to shake off the lost and adrift feelings I've accrued over the 287 pages I read. I couldn't finish it, it was too tortuous. In fact, the last 187 pages I often just skimmed or even flicked past, particularly the ones that contained the meaningless tales of stupidity from the Laments' nightmare children. I don't care where The Laments go from page 287; my only concern is how to retrieve th ...more
Kevin
Jun 23, 2008 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: fiction
As other reviewers have suggested, the Laments are aptly named. Tragedy visits the family frequently, but it is less of a jolt to the readers than it might be, thanks to Hagen's light touch.

It may be that Hagen's subjects evoke more sympathy for their disasters since the source of their troubles is typically not a personal defect or weakness, but the collusion of external racism, greed, callous speculation, or misinformation. Watch for one character in particular to shed naivete late in the book
...more
Terragyrl3
Captivating, but I'm not sure I liked it--if that makes any sense.
Pam
Jun 21, 2014 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very fast read and is the bittersweet story of the Lament family as they moved from Africa to England to the U.S. Both tragic and humorous, it reminded me of The World According to Garp.
Holly
Mar 08, 2012 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing really makes these characters come alive and feel so real, so human. Each leg of their journey draws you into their new world and every nuance of their experiences feel completely authentic. These characters and their lives are far from perfect which is refreshing in a way. But the events of their story are sometimes so outrageously tragic that this book wasn't always to read and I found myself needing an emotional break from it from time to time. I love this author's voice and style ...more
Chris Burland
Jul 20, 2011 Chris Burland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those $5 books I took a flyer on, you know the situation - a new book by an unfamiliar author. I found it on the reduced table at Chapters a year ago.

It's a quirky book about a nomadic family, odd characters story sad but uplifting. Written with a touch of humour and pathos combined. It's been a couple of years since I read it. Don't remember much about the plot.

I tried his book, Tom Bedlam I think its called and couldn't get in it. Stopped reading it after 50 pages.

Lucy Donaldson
Dec 08, 2015 Lucy Donaldson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5
Heather
Dec 03, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This was a really nice story about a boy who is switched at birth and grows up feeling a little out of place. At first it seems that he is the one sad character in a very happy family, but as time goes on, it appears that he is the most sane member of his adoptive family. It's really nice how instead of being given a place in the family, he effectively earns his place by keeping them all together, such as they are. This book had some rough bits but I really enjoyed it overall.
Cat
May 08, 2011 Cat rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: escapism, meh
A thoroughly disappointing bargain-bin pick. Hagen's novel reads like a paean to the burgeoning sexuality of his adolescence, with awkward fondlings and couplings every three pages. His politics are trite and his portrait of ex-pat Rhodesians living in the US is shallow and one-dimensional. The ending is a triumph of loose ends being tied up in each other too neatly and too completely -- I finished the book with a sense of irritated disbelief.
Stephanie
Aug 03, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the characters in this book and thoroughly enjoyed following the Laments on their life travels. I can relate to the way Hagan conveys Howard's desire to frequently start afresh in some new place, and how this impacts upon the rest of his family. The characters feel warming and real, you keep wanting to go back to them, and hope that everything will turn out alright for them in the end.
Tori
2009-This story is a family saga that focuses on the Laments, who are changed forever after the birth of their first child. As the family grows, the Laments move from continent to continent, but misfortune always seems to be right behind them. This was a quick read, and I enjoyed it, although the story was rather sad. I'd be interested to see what else the author has written.
Ronald Wise
Aug 26, 2011 Ronald Wise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel about a family that relocated several times: South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Bahrain, England, and New Jersey. I came to know and appreciate the mother and oldest son, and felt sad after reading the last page. There were some odd and surprising twists in the plot. I learned of this one from librarian Nancy Pearl's radio book review.
Chris
May 16, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Not a particularly well written book. Consensus of book club was he tried to put too many ideas into the book and didnt give them all a conclusion.
Personally, I only began to like it when the family moved to their last house in America. The storyline seemed to settle down a bit and you began to care a bit more for the characters.
Ala
Jun 27, 2010 Ala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of an unusual family with a few secrets and several tragedies. The father has a traveling streak, not being able to be in the same place for more than a few years, and this is merely one of the things that takes a toll on the family. It's a pretty heartbreaking somber tale, but one that's extremely well-written.
Melissa
Mar 09, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful portrait of an intelligent, slightly nomadic family. I wouldn't call it a light, happy read, but it isn't overly heavy either and it's a quick read. I loved the characters, especially the kids. It may not be a perfectly written novel, but I was very happy I took the time to read it.
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