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I Know This Much is True

by Wally Lamb

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9,735164626 (4.1)1 / 168
Dominick Birdsey, a forty-year-old housepainter living in Three Rivers, Connecticut, finds his life greatly disturbed when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation.
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» See also 168 mentions

English (160)  French (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (164)
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
This is mainly the story of twin brothers, one who is in and out of institutions due to mental illness, and one who feels he must always look after him and protect him as best he can.
I very much enjoyed the first part of the book which kind of bounced back and forth between the here and now, and flash backs to when the boys were growing up with an abusive step father and a mom who was basically afraid of her own shadow, Towards the middle and into the last half when much of the book was taken over by memoirs written by the long dead grandfather my enjoyment began to wane a bit. I also would have liked less psycho babble from the drawn out visits with the psychiatrist who was constantly asking for things (Americanisms ) to be explained. Although some of the secrets revealed in the grandfather's memoirs were pertinent to the story, I really feel this story could have been better told in 700 or so pages instead of needlessly dragged out into 900. ( )
  IreneCole | Jul 27, 2022 |
Story of Domonick and his troubled identical twin brother, who protests at the first Gulf War by cutting off his hand.[return][return]This leads Domonick to assess how his life has gone, and confront some long buried issues. [return][return]900 pages long, this is a biggie, have to admit to skimming chunks of it because I got a little bored, but generally worth while
  nordie | Apr 18, 2022 |
“If your twin was dead, were you still a twin?”
~ Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True

I hope everyone has that one friend that every time they recommend a book, you know you will not be disappointment. I am so lucky that I have such a friend. She recommended Wally Lamb’s mammoth novel I Know This Much Is True.

I don’t believe the next paragraph contains spoilers but to be on the safe side **Spoiler Alert**. To summarize; the story follows a set of identical twins, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, set in the early 1990’s in Three Rivers, Connecticut. Thomas is the gentle, all around nice-guy twin who, unfortunately, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. When on the correct medication, he can keep his psychotic episodes at bay, for the most part. Dominick, on the other hand, comes off as the angry brother; the brother who always watches after and protects his twin brother from just about everyone. All-the-while, they also endure an abusive, cold-hearted stepfather. The book opens up with Thomas having a psychotic episode where he mutilates himself in protest to the Gulf War. The reason being is he feels he needs to make a blood sacrifice to God to stop the bloodshed that the war brings. By doing this he lands in the State hospital…the corrupt kind of hospital that doesn’t give one iota about anything but the bottom line. Dominick will do anything in his power to get Thomas back to being an inpatient where he normally stays and where they take wonderful care of Thomas.

If I say anything more, I fear I will be offering more than what my summary should give and I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But what I can say is that this book is a gut-wrenching, complex, roller-coaster ride. Dominick narrates in a blunt, “this is how it is” style, holding nothing back. The way he tells us of how his life is makes me care for all the characters…really care. So much so that I had to remind myself that this work is a work of fiction and not real life.

Even though I loved reading this book, it did fall short in some areas. First, was the ‘grandfather’ sub-plot that I could have done without. For me, it didn’t add any value to the story. Second, there is so much drama and sorrow throughout the whole novel, that the ending was unrealistic, cleaning up all those lose ends in just two chapters. Outside of those two points, I found this book phenomenal. And, if ever asked if I would recommend this book, a solid, “Yes!” would be my answer. However, I would follow that by stating that there are some triggers that some people might find offensive, such as explicit language, bullying, rape, death, body mutilation, self-harm and suicide- to name a few.

“I walked over and looked closer at the statue of the goddess. She was wearing a headdress with a skull and a cobra and a crescent moon. Maybe this is what peace of mind was all about: having a poisonous snake on your head and smiling anyway.”
~Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True ( )
  Christilee394 | Jan 31, 2022 |
“If your twin was dead, were you still a twin?”
~ Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True

I hope everyone has that one friend that every time they recommend a book, you know you will not be disappointment. I am so lucky that I have such a friend. She recommended Wally Lamb’s mammoth novel I Know This Much Is True.

I don’t believe the next paragraph contains spoilers but to be on the safe side **Spoiler Alert**. To summarize; the story follows a set of identical twins, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, set in the early 1990’s in Three Rivers, Connecticut. Thomas is the gentle, all around nice-guy twin who, unfortunately, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. When on the correct medication, he can keep his psychotic episodes at bay, for the most part. Dominick, on the other hand, comes off as the angry brother; the brother who always watches after and protects his twin brother from just about everyone. All-the-while, they also endure an abusive, cold hearted step-father. The book opens up with Thomas having a psychotic episode where he mutilates himself in protest to the Gulf War. The reason being is he feels he needs to make a blood sacrifice to God to stop the bloodshed that the war brings. By doing this he lands in the State hospital…the corrupt kind of hospital that doesn’t give one iota about anything but the bottom line. Dominick will do anything in his power to get Thomas back to being an inpatient where he normally stays and where they take wonderful care of Thomas.

If I say anything more, I fear I will be offering more than what my summary should give and I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But what I can say is that this book is a gut-wrenching, complex, roller-coaster ride. Dominick narrates in a blunt, “this is how it is” style, holding nothing back. The way he tells us of how his life is makes me care for all the characters…really care. So much so that I had to remind myself that this work is a work of fiction and not real life.

Even though I loved reading this book, it did fall short in some areas. First, was the ‘grandfather’ sub-plot that I could have done without. For me, it didn’t add any value to the story. Second, there is so much drama and sorrow throughout the whole novel, that the ending was unrealistic, cleaning up all those lose ends in just two chapters. Outside of those two points, I found this book phenomenal. And, if ever asked if I would recommend this book, a solid, “Yes!” would be my answer. However, I would follow that by stating that there are some triggers that some people might find offensive, such as explicit language, bullying, rape, death, body mutilation, self-harm and suicide- to name a few.

“I walked over and looked closer at the statue of the goddess. She was wearing a headdress with a skull and a cobra and a crescent moon. Maybe this is what peace of mind was all about: having a poisonous snake on your head and smiling anyway. ”
~Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True ( )
  Christilee394 | Jan 28, 2022 |
A wonderful ROOT discovery of this long-form fiction story of two twins lives during a time of upheaval. Very moving and engaging. ( )
  brakketh | Nov 2, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 160 (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.
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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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Dominick Birdsey, a forty-year-old housepainter living in Three Rivers, Connecticut, finds his life greatly disturbed when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation.

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Book description
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. . . .

One of the most acclaimed novels of our time, Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True is a story of alienation and connection, devastation and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human.
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