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With his stunning debut novel, She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb won the adulation of critics and readers with his mesmerizing tale of one woman's painful yet triumphant journey of self-discovery. Now, this brilliantly talented writer returns with I Know This Much Is True, a heartbreaking and poignant multigenerational saga of the reproductive bonds of destruction and the powerful force of forgiveness. A masterpiece that breathtakingly tells a story of alienation and connection, power and abuse, devastation and renewal—this novel is a contemporary retelling of an ancient Hindu myth. A proud king must confront his demons to achieve salvation. Change yourself, the myth instructs, and you will inhabit a renovated world.

Topics: Connecticut, New York City, 1990s, Emotional, Psychological, Heartbreaking, Panoramic, Mental Illness, Twins, Schizophrenia, Family, Brothers, Siblings, Love, Death, Fathers, Suicide, Abuse, Depression, Dysfunctional Family, Guilt, 20th Century, American Author, and Male Author

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061745799
List price: $11.99
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SO I only read 40 pages, but gah. I didn't like anything about it. Boo.more
Haunting, chilling. Years later the premise of this book still breaks my heart.more
on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 I wrote:


I've started reading I Know This Much is True on the 15th of May. It is now the 25th and i am nearly finished.

I have to say that I do think this book could have been cut at least 200 pages.
It was hard to get into, .
i think it took me at least up til page 200, if not page 300 to get in to it.
Now i am at page 785 and am loving it.

But i did read other books while I was reading this one.
I am glad I did not quit though.
It is a very interesting book and story about 2 identical twins, one of them turns out to be schizophrenic. It is mostly about the brother who is not sick and how he is coping.

I will update this journal when I've finished but I'm happy I was able to read this.

Update May 26 2004

I wrote this journal last night. I took the book to bed with me and could not stop reading so I've finished it last night (at 2 am)


more
this book was far FAR too long. It could have told the same story by cutting down the number of subplots, like a) the painting business and his mad customer, b) the girlfriend that he doesnt even care about - why should we, and c) the AIDS non-issue.

I also didnt like how he the author felt compelled to wrap everything up in a bow in the end. Too simplistic and not authenticmore
I would recomend this book for teens that are 15 or higher because the actual plot of this book is advanced.Its got a more detailed plot. It has grown up situations in it. Something adults and young adults will comprehend.more
While Mr Lamb is a very good author, the subject matter seems to lean to the dark side of life and 900 pages of it is TOO much!more
Story of a set of twins -- one healthy and one mentally ill. Book focuses on the healthy twin and how having a unhealthy brother affects his whole life. It's a long book but a good story.more
This was a recommendation from a fellow book lover and I can see why she enjoyed it so much. Dominick's twin brother Thomas has extreme mental problems and Dominick struggles to understand how his twin could be so different from himself. In learning about them we also get the story of their past and their families. It's a dark book at times but feels real and I definitely enjoyed it.more
The love of a family, for a family, is usually far more than meets the eye. Wonderful.more
At first I was skeptical about this book because of the 897 pages of the paperback edition, and I kept putting off on buying it every time I see it. Although after a while I decided to go on and buy it already. As I was reading this novel, I was really entranced by it. I thought it would take me several weeks to finish it but instead I ended up finishing it in less than one week. It's definitely blissful, moving, and heartbreaking. In the beginning I thought it would just be about a schizophrenic twin brother, but the author adds more into the story, and as I read this novel, the author takes me into different paths of the story including Thomas' grandfather's journal (which was his grandfather's past life), and Thomas' & Dominick's past & present life. The book was not just concentrated on a single objective but it had multiples, including mental illness, brotherhood, confession, penance, family history, abuse, marriage failure, SIDS, and self-discovery. Don't be intimidated by the 897 pages of this book, it will be worth your while.more
I had to read this for a book club, although I was reluctant because I hated the book She's Come Undone by the same author. However, this one was relatively painless to read and an interesting story. Although I read it a while ago, I remember being digusted by the ending... my assumption at the time was that the author had a deadline to meet.more
The only thing that keeps me from giving this book four stars was how sad and unrelenting it was. I turned the pages hoping for relief but found none, however, it was well written and did certainly keep me turning the pages.more
one of my favorite books and author, so easy to read you never want it to endmore
Wally Lamb’s I Know this Much is True brings to my mind AbrahamVerghese’s Cutting for Stone for two reasons. The first is both novels are about identical twins with absent fathers. As in Cutting for Stone, Lamb’s brothers experience the strong connection of being two parts of one whole, for better or for worse. The second resemblance is the fact that it’s an absolutely compelling read. Both books kept me up late at night reading; as soon as I woke up I was eager to pick up where I had left off.I Know this Much is True fluctuates between past and present. It is narrated by Dominick, forty, recently divorced, angry, and overburdened with caring for his schizophrenic twin, Thomas. His life is a mess and throughout the book he tries to come to terms with both his past and present. His childhood is dominated by an abusive stepfather, a weak, fearful mother, and a brother who is the constant victim of bullies both young and old. Dominick spends his childhood alternately despising and rescuing his twin. Jealous of his mother’s closeness to Thomas, he often finds himself teamed with his hated step-father, guiltily inflicting pain on both his brother and his mother. Thrown into the mix is the diary of his maternal grandfather, an arrogant and cruel man.Peopled with believable, well developed characters, the novel has imagery that repeats throughout the book: rabbits, monkeys, maimed limbs, and of course, twins. It addresses wider themes as well: anger, racism, survival of the fittest and facing the past to enable personal renewal and redemption. My only complaint about the book is that it ended just a little too neatly, with all issues explained and resolved. Still, I have to give this book 5 stars – it was a fabulous read.more
What a masterpiece!Dominick and Thomas' story, their own ways to survive the contradictions and the irony of life.I loved the simplicity,the closeness, laughed and cried for Dominick and I rejoiced in his redemption.The best novel this year, for sure!more
Wally Lamb’s second novel, I know this much is true, sets the bar very high for contemporary psychological fiction. Today’s readers have little patience with this genre. The best-known authors of psychological fiction, Henry James and Marcel Proust, have become relegated to the pages of literary history. Sure, we regard them as giants in the literary canon. But from that to actually having the patience to read them… Few contemporary readers take the time to appreciate all the nuances of James’ minute descriptions of gestures, gazes, hidden undercurrents and how each movement reflects the depth of human feelings and desires. Yet fewer take the time to follow all of Proust’s minute analyses of human motivations and page-long, tortuous sentences.In his first two novels, Wally Lamb makes this now arcane genre palatable to contemporary readers. “I know this Much is True” traces the lives of two twin brothers: the narrator, Dominick Birdsey, an English teacher who has suffered through a troubled family life, an abusive stepfather, a failing marriage, a pathological relationship with his younger girlfriend (and her lover), and, above all, the burden and duty of taking care of Thomas, his fraternal twin who develops paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 19.This novel is a psychological tour-de-force, both in its vivid characterizations (even Dominick’s sleazy friend and foil, Leo, is completely believable) and in its detailed descriptions of mental illness and how it affects both the individual who suffers from it and those who care about him. To describe mental illness in a way mainstream readers have the patience to read is no easy task. Lamb does a masterful job of giving us a multidimensional picture of paranoid schizophrenia both from within Thomas’ deteriorating mental state and from without, by depicting Dominick’s struggles to save his brother from the illness that overtakes his life and to protect him from the reactions of others. By showing us a before and after schizophrenia picture of Thomas, we can relate to him as a human being and follow the painful challenges he and his family face in dealing with his mental illness. Finally, Lamb’s style–accessible yet sophisticated–renders the lost genre of “psychological fiction” what it really should be: mainstream fiction of the highest caliber.Claudia Moscovici, Notablewriters.commore
Twin brothers raised by an abusive stepfather experience adulthood in different ways. Incredible story delves into mental health and family issues. I couldn't stop reading it.more
I read this novel in 5 (long) sittings. Wally Lamb told an amazing story of trauma and healing in one of the most gripping novels I've read.more
I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this book. At a whoppin' 897 pages, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get into it if it wasn't worth it. But some people in my online book group encouraged me to read it and it was definitely worth it.It is told from the point of view of Dominick, whose twin brother is schizophrenic. He tells of their lives growing up with an abusive step-father, their present lives as Dominick fights for his brother's mental and physical safety, and the life of their grandfather who was a Sicilian immigrant.more
There is much to like about Lamb's writing. I found, in the end, however, that the thing I liked most is also the thing I liked least.What I didn't like about the book was the constant, deeply troubling graphic portrayal of severely dysfuntional individuals and families, the never-ending vulgar and obscene language along with descriptive episodes of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Not my normal reading fare.However, the thing that Lamb does so well is the 'true-to-life' rendering of a multi-generational, multi-faceted and riveting story of a family struggling with a bag full of life's biggest challenges - schizophrenia and domestic abuse, to name two. Each little detailed aspect of the character's lives, interactions and thoughts were presented in a way that engaged me on practically every one of the book's 897 pages.For all the dysfuntion, the ending seemed, to me, a bit too 'happily ever after'. While I admire Lamb's writing and found myself enthralled by the story, I was put off by some things to the point that I doubt I will read another of his books. more
This book is the reason why Wally Lamb is one of my favorite contemporary fiction writers. The complexity of the writing and the storyline make all 1,200 pages of this book more than worth it. The story follows two, identical twin brothers. One is "normal" and the other suffers from schizophrenia. The book takes an in-depth look at the mental health of both brothers, while taking an odd and interesting view into the history of their family. The book is well researched and includes an extensive bibliography of works consulted. This is a book that stays with you for years or a life-time. I Know This Much is True also has one of the BEST opening scenes of any novel I've ever read!more
I enjoyed this book so much, the 900 pages just flew by. What an incredible story!more
kept me up all night reading until i finished it (in high school, mind you, but still, a definite page turner).more
If you can think of some way in which a life can be screwed up, there is probably an example of it in this book. But don't worry, it turns out all fantastically tidy in the end. It was impossible for me to read this book with anything resembling belief. I felt like I was reading tabloid material for hundreds of pages, followed by an advertisement for how a psychiatrist can save your life. Perhaps because I don't know any amount of people who combined have even a quarter of the problems that the characters in this book had, or perhaps because I don't have an undying faith in the miracle powers of psychiatry, but I found the book to be tiresome and unbelievable...something that not even good writing can overcome.more
I loved the story and found it well written. Two things puzzled me:why do all italian men in this book beat up their wives? I live in Central Europe and have a lot of italian friends: they are maybe known for adultery but not for being brutal against their wives.Second: I didn't like the end. It is a little bit too much happy end!more
amazing- i could not put it down!more
This story really winds up for the pitch and does not disappoint. I found myself nodding off a little towards the end of "she's come undone". Not so much reading this novel though. I was gripping the edges of the book to the very end. Perhaps to hear of sadness, tragedy, mental illness, but also sweetness, family and devotion. This is a really great book!more
Read all 80 reviews

Reviews

SO I only read 40 pages, but gah. I didn't like anything about it. Boo.more
Haunting, chilling. Years later the premise of this book still breaks my heart.more
on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 I wrote:


I've started reading I Know This Much is True on the 15th of May. It is now the 25th and i am nearly finished.

I have to say that I do think this book could have been cut at least 200 pages.
It was hard to get into, .
i think it took me at least up til page 200, if not page 300 to get in to it.
Now i am at page 785 and am loving it.

But i did read other books while I was reading this one.
I am glad I did not quit though.
It is a very interesting book and story about 2 identical twins, one of them turns out to be schizophrenic. It is mostly about the brother who is not sick and how he is coping.

I will update this journal when I've finished but I'm happy I was able to read this.

Update May 26 2004

I wrote this journal last night. I took the book to bed with me and could not stop reading so I've finished it last night (at 2 am)


more
this book was far FAR too long. It could have told the same story by cutting down the number of subplots, like a) the painting business and his mad customer, b) the girlfriend that he doesnt even care about - why should we, and c) the AIDS non-issue.

I also didnt like how he the author felt compelled to wrap everything up in a bow in the end. Too simplistic and not authenticmore
I would recomend this book for teens that are 15 or higher because the actual plot of this book is advanced.Its got a more detailed plot. It has grown up situations in it. Something adults and young adults will comprehend.more
While Mr Lamb is a very good author, the subject matter seems to lean to the dark side of life and 900 pages of it is TOO much!more
Story of a set of twins -- one healthy and one mentally ill. Book focuses on the healthy twin and how having a unhealthy brother affects his whole life. It's a long book but a good story.more
This was a recommendation from a fellow book lover and I can see why she enjoyed it so much. Dominick's twin brother Thomas has extreme mental problems and Dominick struggles to understand how his twin could be so different from himself. In learning about them we also get the story of their past and their families. It's a dark book at times but feels real and I definitely enjoyed it.more
The love of a family, for a family, is usually far more than meets the eye. Wonderful.more
At first I was skeptical about this book because of the 897 pages of the paperback edition, and I kept putting off on buying it every time I see it. Although after a while I decided to go on and buy it already. As I was reading this novel, I was really entranced by it. I thought it would take me several weeks to finish it but instead I ended up finishing it in less than one week. It's definitely blissful, moving, and heartbreaking. In the beginning I thought it would just be about a schizophrenic twin brother, but the author adds more into the story, and as I read this novel, the author takes me into different paths of the story including Thomas' grandfather's journal (which was his grandfather's past life), and Thomas' & Dominick's past & present life. The book was not just concentrated on a single objective but it had multiples, including mental illness, brotherhood, confession, penance, family history, abuse, marriage failure, SIDS, and self-discovery. Don't be intimidated by the 897 pages of this book, it will be worth your while.more
I had to read this for a book club, although I was reluctant because I hated the book She's Come Undone by the same author. However, this one was relatively painless to read and an interesting story. Although I read it a while ago, I remember being digusted by the ending... my assumption at the time was that the author had a deadline to meet.more
The only thing that keeps me from giving this book four stars was how sad and unrelenting it was. I turned the pages hoping for relief but found none, however, it was well written and did certainly keep me turning the pages.more
one of my favorite books and author, so easy to read you never want it to endmore
Wally Lamb’s I Know this Much is True brings to my mind AbrahamVerghese’s Cutting for Stone for two reasons. The first is both novels are about identical twins with absent fathers. As in Cutting for Stone, Lamb’s brothers experience the strong connection of being two parts of one whole, for better or for worse. The second resemblance is the fact that it’s an absolutely compelling read. Both books kept me up late at night reading; as soon as I woke up I was eager to pick up where I had left off.I Know this Much is True fluctuates between past and present. It is narrated by Dominick, forty, recently divorced, angry, and overburdened with caring for his schizophrenic twin, Thomas. His life is a mess and throughout the book he tries to come to terms with both his past and present. His childhood is dominated by an abusive stepfather, a weak, fearful mother, and a brother who is the constant victim of bullies both young and old. Dominick spends his childhood alternately despising and rescuing his twin. Jealous of his mother’s closeness to Thomas, he often finds himself teamed with his hated step-father, guiltily inflicting pain on both his brother and his mother. Thrown into the mix is the diary of his maternal grandfather, an arrogant and cruel man.Peopled with believable, well developed characters, the novel has imagery that repeats throughout the book: rabbits, monkeys, maimed limbs, and of course, twins. It addresses wider themes as well: anger, racism, survival of the fittest and facing the past to enable personal renewal and redemption. My only complaint about the book is that it ended just a little too neatly, with all issues explained and resolved. Still, I have to give this book 5 stars – it was a fabulous read.more
What a masterpiece!Dominick and Thomas' story, their own ways to survive the contradictions and the irony of life.I loved the simplicity,the closeness, laughed and cried for Dominick and I rejoiced in his redemption.The best novel this year, for sure!more
Wally Lamb’s second novel, I know this much is true, sets the bar very high for contemporary psychological fiction. Today’s readers have little patience with this genre. The best-known authors of psychological fiction, Henry James and Marcel Proust, have become relegated to the pages of literary history. Sure, we regard them as giants in the literary canon. But from that to actually having the patience to read them… Few contemporary readers take the time to appreciate all the nuances of James’ minute descriptions of gestures, gazes, hidden undercurrents and how each movement reflects the depth of human feelings and desires. Yet fewer take the time to follow all of Proust’s minute analyses of human motivations and page-long, tortuous sentences.In his first two novels, Wally Lamb makes this now arcane genre palatable to contemporary readers. “I know this Much is True” traces the lives of two twin brothers: the narrator, Dominick Birdsey, an English teacher who has suffered through a troubled family life, an abusive stepfather, a failing marriage, a pathological relationship with his younger girlfriend (and her lover), and, above all, the burden and duty of taking care of Thomas, his fraternal twin who develops paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 19.This novel is a psychological tour-de-force, both in its vivid characterizations (even Dominick’s sleazy friend and foil, Leo, is completely believable) and in its detailed descriptions of mental illness and how it affects both the individual who suffers from it and those who care about him. To describe mental illness in a way mainstream readers have the patience to read is no easy task. Lamb does a masterful job of giving us a multidimensional picture of paranoid schizophrenia both from within Thomas’ deteriorating mental state and from without, by depicting Dominick’s struggles to save his brother from the illness that overtakes his life and to protect him from the reactions of others. By showing us a before and after schizophrenia picture of Thomas, we can relate to him as a human being and follow the painful challenges he and his family face in dealing with his mental illness. Finally, Lamb’s style–accessible yet sophisticated–renders the lost genre of “psychological fiction” what it really should be: mainstream fiction of the highest caliber.Claudia Moscovici, Notablewriters.commore
Twin brothers raised by an abusive stepfather experience adulthood in different ways. Incredible story delves into mental health and family issues. I couldn't stop reading it.more
I read this novel in 5 (long) sittings. Wally Lamb told an amazing story of trauma and healing in one of the most gripping novels I've read.more
I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this book. At a whoppin' 897 pages, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get into it if it wasn't worth it. But some people in my online book group encouraged me to read it and it was definitely worth it.It is told from the point of view of Dominick, whose twin brother is schizophrenic. He tells of their lives growing up with an abusive step-father, their present lives as Dominick fights for his brother's mental and physical safety, and the life of their grandfather who was a Sicilian immigrant.more
There is much to like about Lamb's writing. I found, in the end, however, that the thing I liked most is also the thing I liked least.What I didn't like about the book was the constant, deeply troubling graphic portrayal of severely dysfuntional individuals and families, the never-ending vulgar and obscene language along with descriptive episodes of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Not my normal reading fare.However, the thing that Lamb does so well is the 'true-to-life' rendering of a multi-generational, multi-faceted and riveting story of a family struggling with a bag full of life's biggest challenges - schizophrenia and domestic abuse, to name two. Each little detailed aspect of the character's lives, interactions and thoughts were presented in a way that engaged me on practically every one of the book's 897 pages.For all the dysfuntion, the ending seemed, to me, a bit too 'happily ever after'. While I admire Lamb's writing and found myself enthralled by the story, I was put off by some things to the point that I doubt I will read another of his books. more
This book is the reason why Wally Lamb is one of my favorite contemporary fiction writers. The complexity of the writing and the storyline make all 1,200 pages of this book more than worth it. The story follows two, identical twin brothers. One is "normal" and the other suffers from schizophrenia. The book takes an in-depth look at the mental health of both brothers, while taking an odd and interesting view into the history of their family. The book is well researched and includes an extensive bibliography of works consulted. This is a book that stays with you for years or a life-time. I Know This Much is True also has one of the BEST opening scenes of any novel I've ever read!more
I enjoyed this book so much, the 900 pages just flew by. What an incredible story!more
kept me up all night reading until i finished it (in high school, mind you, but still, a definite page turner).more
If you can think of some way in which a life can be screwed up, there is probably an example of it in this book. But don't worry, it turns out all fantastically tidy in the end. It was impossible for me to read this book with anything resembling belief. I felt like I was reading tabloid material for hundreds of pages, followed by an advertisement for how a psychiatrist can save your life. Perhaps because I don't know any amount of people who combined have even a quarter of the problems that the characters in this book had, or perhaps because I don't have an undying faith in the miracle powers of psychiatry, but I found the book to be tiresome and unbelievable...something that not even good writing can overcome.more
I loved the story and found it well written. Two things puzzled me:why do all italian men in this book beat up their wives? I live in Central Europe and have a lot of italian friends: they are maybe known for adultery but not for being brutal against their wives.Second: I didn't like the end. It is a little bit too much happy end!more
amazing- i could not put it down!more
This story really winds up for the pitch and does not disappoint. I found myself nodding off a little towards the end of "she's come undone". Not so much reading this novel though. I was gripping the edges of the book to the very end. Perhaps to hear of sadness, tragedy, mental illness, but also sweetness, family and devotion. This is a really great book!more
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