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I Know This Much is True

by Wally Lamb

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,384161602 (4.11)1 / 162
#1 New York Times Bestseller and Oprah Book Club selection "Thoughtful . . . heart-wrenching . . . . An exercise in soul-baring storytelling--with the soul belonging to 20th-century America itself. It's hard to read and to stop reading, and impossible to forget."  -- USA Today Dominick Birdsey, a forty-year-old housepainter living in Three Rivers, Connecticut, finds his subdued life greatly disturbed when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation. Dominick is forced to care for his brother as well as confront dark secrets and pain he has buried deep within himself--a journey of the soul that takes him beyond his blue-collar New England town to Sicily's Mount Etna, the birthplace of his grandfather and namesake. Coming to terms with his life and lineage, Dominick struggles to find forgiveness and finally rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his troubled twin. I Know This Much Is True is a masterfully told story of alienation and connection, power and abuse, devastation and renewal--an unforgettable masterpiece.   … (more)
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» See also 162 mentions

English (156)  French (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (160)
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
897 pages with the most angry, arrogant, selfish middle age man on the planet. Definitely made me take a look at myself and make sure I'm not acting like the entire world is against me.

Yes, Dominick...we know you grew up in a dysfunctional home full of physical and verbal abuse and we know what a burden it was for you to have to take care of your mentally ill brother and your mother. Doesn't mean you get to be a JERK to everyone who crosses your path. Everyone on this planet is dealing with their own personal shit so we need to get over ourselves, ok? Sheesh!

This book is a chunkster so go for the ebook or audiobook if you can. Trying to balance an 897 page hardcover when your cat takes over your lap is not easy, but I got this book back in the early days of Oprah's first bookclub. I don't know if ebooks had even been invented yet.

This book lives on my Favorites shelf. This past Wednesday, my day off, I read from page 96 to 320. Could not put it down. Every single sentence is good. Well, except the transcript of the grandfather's life story. I'll admit I skimmed through most of that. I read this book all day yesterday and finished it just now.

The HBO series with Mark Ruffalo is really good, too. ( )
  Jinjer | Jul 19, 2021 |
I picked up this book from a second-hand shop, for no other reason than the cover. The photo looked like the ultrasound of a monoamniotic twin pregnancy, which my wife and I were having at the time.

Man, am I happy I did... Even though it spent a few years unnoticed on my to-read shelf after that.

Meanwhile, I am the happiest father of not one, but two sets of identical twins, but don't worry, reading this book is a guaranteed life-changing experience for everyone. Life-enhancing even. Exploring the sheer amount of realistically portrayed anger, sorrow and doubt but also love, strength and persistence is tantamount to living an extra life of your own.

The story focuses on the most terrible year imaginable for Dominick, twin-brother of the paranoid schizophrenic Thomas. In between, we also get to know their asshole maternal grandfather quite a bit through his memoirs. While reading, I continually felt like I wanted to get to know Dominick more, hold him, console him. The first person point of view is masterfully applied since Lamb still successfully manages to create psychologically complete characters around the narrator, each with their own development and growth. The perfect blend with late 20th century East Coast USA serves for a great finishing touch of this otherwise timeless book.

Yes, there is a lot of drama in this book. Perhaps even a tad bit too much. Also, Lamb doesn't shy away from some caricaturesque personalities to start from.

Yet, this is a more than amazing book that made me cry. I know this much is true. ( )
  bbbart | Dec 27, 2020 |
The perspective of this book is engrossing and captivating. As a woman, at times, I hated this man, but by the end, I had gone through about as much transformation understanding him as he did in understanding himself. Fascinating story of intergenerational identity, twins, mental health care, and race. ( )
  Oleacae | Oct 24, 2020 |
I really enjoyed reading this book and enjoyed the suspense of all the family secrets. I did NOT enjoy the book within the book: Domenick's grandfather's autobiography. Reading those passages was truly a chore for me, and just seemed to hold up the plot at times. But otherwise a terrific, compelling story. ( )
  klnbennett | Oct 7, 2020 |
I Know This Much is True offers stories within stories, and although the book offers as much heartbreak and character analysis as humor and plot, it is such an incredibly clever and careful exploration of a person's story that it's kind of wonderful, and very often difficult to put down. Although it dragged for me when it got to the manuscript excerpts in the middle/second half of the book, even those were such an interesting snapshot of character that I was never inclined to skim or skip them--I just couldn't be anxious to get back to the voice that held this book together. Because it is the voice that is so powerful, and which makes this book.

The novel was actually recommended to me when I asked for recommendations from friends/colleagues on social media, asking that they tell me of the best contemporary book they'd read which was in first person. With most of my friends being readers, writers, and teachers, I expected some phenomenal recommendations, and this one didn't disappoint. Lamb's writing offers everything one could ask from a novel, and more. It is not a short read or an easy read, but it is worth every moment.

Absolutely recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Sep 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wally Lambprimary authorall editionscalculated
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heer, Inge deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is for my father and my sons.
First words
On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother Thomas entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut Public LIbrary, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable.
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"That's the trouble with survival of the fittest ... The corpse at your feet. That little inconvenience."
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#1 New York Times Bestseller and Oprah Book Club selection "Thoughtful . . . heart-wrenching . . . . An exercise in soul-baring storytelling--with the soul belonging to 20th-century America itself. It's hard to read and to stop reading, and impossible to forget."  -- USA Today Dominick Birdsey, a forty-year-old housepainter living in Three Rivers, Connecticut, finds his subdued life greatly disturbed when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation. Dominick is forced to care for his brother as well as confront dark secrets and pain he has buried deep within himself--a journey of the soul that takes him beyond his blue-collar New England town to Sicily's Mount Etna, the birthplace of his grandfather and namesake. Coming to terms with his life and lineage, Dominick struggles to find forgiveness and finally rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his troubled twin. I Know This Much Is True is a masterfully told story of alienation and connection, power and abuse, devastation and renewal--an unforgettable masterpiece.   

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