I Know This Much Is True
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I Know This Much Is True

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  179,383 ratings  ·  6,035 reviews
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,...more
Paperback, 897 pages
Published May 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1998)
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This is a book I have been meaning to read since 1997. That's actually even before it was officially published, which might seem weird, if you didn't already know that Wally Lamb was teaching writing at my high school at the time he was working on this novel; and if you didn't know that my freshman English class helped "edit" one of the first chapters, back in 1994 or 1995.

The novel tells the story of Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, identical twins dealing with very fraternal problems, namely that...more
Jennine Jones
This is one of those books I read that has never left me. After I finished it I just sat in my chair and cryed for a long time. And I can't explain why exactly, as the ending was surprisingly hopeful. It explores the nature of close family relationships and how you can love someone and also hate them and be embarrassed by them, and the guilt that results from these conflicting emotions. The main character has a mother with physical defects which have inhibited her whole life, a brother with seve...more
Feb 19, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: saw it on a shelf, got a feeling like I had to read it
Shelves: 2007-08
901 pages
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb is by far the best book I've read in a long time. Calling it my favorite is an understatement; as is trying to sum it up in one review.
During the break, all I wanted to do was read. I read about 300 pages a day! I can't describe what exactly made me love the book, but I can guess. First of all, every character was carefully crafted by the author and each forced me to care about what happened to them. The protagonist, Dominick Birdsey, was the per...more
May 29, 2008 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rachel by: Tina
Ufta. Well...it's a testament to the quality of this book that I was willing to stick it out the entire 900 pages (well, 856, but who's counting?) If you can get past the intimidating bulk and stick it through to the end, there really is some quality writing here that is well worth the time it takes to read.

The plot centers around Dominick Birdsey, the "sane" counterpart to his schizophrenic and paranoid identical twin, Thomas. Most of the novel is dedicated to Dominick acting as an advocate for...more
Apr 03, 2008 Traci rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone who feels like they're living their own consolation prize for a life
This is my favorite book ever.

I was reading it while I lived in New York, during the 2 weeks I was holed up in my apartment in New Jersey recovering from the shock of 9/11 . . . adjusting to life all alone in a big city with just my baby daughter (who, at that time, I felt some ambivalence about) . . . missing my older two children . . . and mostly learning how to live after extracting myself from a rigid and controlling church experience. I felt very much like I was learning how to live with a...more
Wally Lamb's second novel, I Know This Much Is True, was probably a result of the success of his first effort - She's Come Undone, which was selected by Oprah for her book club four years after its initial publication in 1992. His sophomore effort, published in 1998, also got stamped with Oprah's round seal - this can be considered either a blessing or a curse, but one thing is certain: it helps to gain readership, and a lot of it. Oprah is acknowledged for that, and is thanked for her help in t...more
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Jun 07, 2008 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: People who like family epcis
Shelves: oprah-book
Lamb's tale of one man dealing with his twin brother's schizophrenia is honest and true to life. Spanning decades and making a number of digressions (a grandfather's biography, a flashback to when Dominick realizes he and his brother are not the same person), the story was always engaging.

The description of Dominick's infant daughter's death at three weeks is heart wrenching. Even sadder is his indulgence in a "what if" fantasy seven years later, as he imagines taking her to dancing lessons, som...more
Jason Gehring
another book that was like a sucker-punch to the gut. even with 900+ pages, i didn't want this one to end, though it ended beautifully. cried again at this one, which is rare. and it contains one of my favorite written sentences. i didn't care if it is an oprah book. i loved "she's come undone," but this book is leagues better.
Wow, what a fantastic book. I read the last 550 pages of this book in one day, disregarding the myriad other things I was supposed to get done. Excellent writing -- every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next (and hoping it didn't, because that would be too predictable) he threw in a curveball or two. The ending actually seemed a little too happy for the rest of the book, but had it ended any other way I might've wanted to jump off a bridge.

Parts of the book were so brutally human...more
Jan 12, 2009 Kristen rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Marie!
Recommended to Kristen by: Kristen
Lots of firsts with me and this book:
1. The longest book I've ever read (898 pages).
2. The most pages I've ever read in a day (300)
3. The first time I've literally had to put the book down and close my eyes so I didn't cry on it...

Books get to me, I admit it. And in the past year or so, I've read quite a few books that got to me...but nothing like this. Hands down, the best book I've ever read in my life. I could not stop reading.

So my friends and I always joke about how we read depressing books...more
Jul 03, 2007 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: those who tin foil their heads
Shelves: booksofthepast
I read this book ages ago- some time before college- and got so consumed by the characters that I thought about them for weeks after I'd finished the book. I would wonder about things on which Lamb didn't elaborate, would think about their personalities, their situations. It's remarkable when a book can become so important to a person.

This story moved (it's a cheesy word, but I really WAS moved) and captivated me because it's so human. The people face things about which I know nothing, but I st...more
Ug. I got physically ill reading this book. IT is about mental illness, dysfunctional families, and domestic abuse. It's the story of one family's dark secrets and recurring patterns of behavior largely succeeds in its ambitious reach. It's about a sibling's responsibility, depicting the moral and emotional conundrum of an identical twin whose love for his afflicted brother is mixed with resentment, bitterness and guilt. His twin Thomas's, is a schizophrenic paranoia and the resulting chaos in b...more
Oct 07, 2007 Mandy rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone!
This is absolutely my favorite book ever. It's quite a long read, but the story pulls you in almost immediately and you can't stop reading until the end.

Though it ended quite well, I remember finishing it and just sobbing. The insights on humanity (both the good and bad parts of it) were utterly profound. Plus, you felt like you truly had come full circle with the main character, Dominick. I'm not sure why I cried... relief that a character so flawed and human like Dominick could get a second ch...more
In the first few chapters I would have given this a 5. Interesting plot, but way too long and ridiculous. The plot twists got more and more far-fetched. A page-turner--have to give it that--but by the 500th page (there are 900+) I started skipping around (too many fragmented stories everywhere, between the flashbacks and the entire journal of the narrator's grandfather) just to find out what was going to happen, without all the extra details. The interaction among characters was intriguing, but...more
Rhokel Normington
this book only gets 3 stars because in the end it held my interest. most days i find mr. lamb's writing tedious and sometimes far to drawn out. however, just like with undone, he picks up this ending book speed and wraps it all up in a neat bow. i am shaking my head but the truth is if another lamb walked into my life i would read it. I would probably also want to haul off and throw at it his head.
People keep griping about the F word. It's just a word. i'm more bothered while trying to re-read this book by-
Wrong narrator syndrome. I really want to get into Thomas's head more. Both Domenicos are just not interesting. Who wants to hear about their grandfather? That guy is such a jerk. He's driving me crazy. Who wants to read about someone thinking he's all that, a bag of chips and a value meal?

Another thing is the dialogue is driving me crazy. The characters are just too simplistic. They do...more
William Kapinos
Feb 13, 2008 William Kapinos rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: any Joe Schmoe who feels that life has handed them a bad deal a lot of the time.
Recommended to William by: samantha
I've read this book during a particular time of turmoil in my life and it was just what I needed, I think. The book is a journey through the life of Dominick Birdsey, a 40 year old housepainter who has pretty much reached near bottom in his satisfaction with his life. He is the twin brother of Thomas Birdsey, a schizophrenic who just cut off his right hand in a public library to protest Gulf War I. The book goes through Dominick's past, starting from his fucked up childhood under his unbeli...more
Haven Fairfield
Dominick Birdsey doesn't know who he is. His identity has been concealed by family secrets and buried under his own anger and arrogance. Dominick believes he has to be tough and has to take what life gives to him. His anger and arrogance pushes those he loves farther away from him just when he needs them most. It is only when his life spins out of control that he finally condescends to embark on a path of self-discovery.

At some point in the book, a character talks about how the books we read re...more
Feb 22, 2007 JO D rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Men and Women
Again, Wally Lamb. This book is about two identical twins in two very different worlds. Dominic is strong willed, confused, yet thoughtful. His brother is schizophrenic, depressed and in an institution.
The book starts out in a shocking way revealing a situation that stuna a little city. Dominic is in the whirlwind of it.
The book then leads us back and forth from present day to back in his childhood dealing with his shy mother and his overbearing and hateful step father. He and his brother are...more
Ron Spence
I found this novel to be a well (if simply) written page turner that is ultimately undermined by its contrivances and by the author's seeming inability to let his readers draw their own conclusions or puzzle things out without having every last theme and story thread laid out explicitly. And then repeated in case the reader didn't catch on. I've read coloring books that are less insulting to a reader's intelligence. The melodrama of the novel is off the charts as well. To whit: Mental illness, c...more
Beth Anne
Nov 09, 2008 Beth Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Beth Anne by: joy
Shelves: favorites
this was one hell of a book. even besides the fact that it is close to 900 pages.

the book is basically the story of Dominick Birdsey, the "sane" twin brother of a mentally ill Thomas. It deals with his life struggle as twin, caretaker, family member, and friend of this person slowly coming undone (no pun intended). but by all means, this is not the only story going on in this novel...not the only character with struggles, pain and emotion.

from joy, Dominick's messed up girlfriend, to Ray, his...more
I found this book immensely frustrating. The concept was beautifully set up, the emotions felt real and true, and certain passages were among the best written that I've ever read. And yet, Wally Lamb insisted on adding in extras - extra plot lines, extra characters - that detracted from the core story that was so, so good.

The basic setup is simple but allows so much room for Lamb to explore complex relationships and emotions. Twin brothers, Dominic and Thomas, grow up with their subjugated mothe...more
The storyline feels authentic as we flash between the growing years of the twins, Thomas and Dominick. In his twenties Thomas develops schizophrenia, and his brother becomes the caretaker after their mother's death. Dominick does not undertake his task lightly. In fact, it dominates his entire life. However, Dominick is not so much a victim as the survivor trying to find the light of day. He has mixed feelings about their mother, who seems to favor the more sensitive twin, Thomas. The only fathe...more
Wow! This was a really great book. Very complex characters touching on many aspects of the human condition (living as an identical twin, schizophrenia, depression, adoption, death, love and a whole host of others.) While the topics covered in this book can be at times very heavy, I think it is an accurate portrayal of the emotions people deal with in their lives about which they don't speak. It's quite a lengthy book, but one I was rather eager to finish.
Another try, this time with my book club. This seemed really convoluted and both brothers were so messed up that I ended up caring more for the 'crazy' one because at least he had an excuse.
one of the best books i have ever read.
Yulande Lindsay
I first tried to read this book in 1999 and simply didn't 'get it' and gave up less than half way through. I decided to give it a try this year as part of a project to read those books that have sat on my shelves without being read and decide whether or not to give them away. I will not be giving this one away and will probably try to read the rest of his work.

There is a debate in this country (Jamaica) about whether or not to close Bellevue Hospital, our only government supported hospital for m...more
Oh, Wally Lamb. This is the first book of yours I have read, but I have heard many a tale of the horrors you afflict upon your main characters. You truly have taken to heart Kurt Vonnegut's instructions to writers: "Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of." In this case, our protagonist is nothing near sweet or innocent. In fact, I kind of hated him... but I still cringed every...more
This book has been on my "to-read" shelf since I joined goodreads. I've picked it up, felt its weight, and put it back on my shelf more times than I can count. And it wasn't just its size that intimidated me. I'd heard from a couple well-trusted sources that this was one of their all-time favorites. God, I hate when people say that. It sets the bar so high...and sometimes, leads to unreachable expectations.

Let me start with this: Though the book is long (clocking in at just under 900 pages), it...more
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Wally Lamb is the author of She's Come Undone, The Hour I First Believed, and I Know This Much Is True. Two were featured as selections of Oprah's Book Club. Lamb is the recipient of the Connecticut Center for the Book's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Connecticut Bar Association's Distinguished Public Service Award, the Connecticut Governor's Art Award, the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers...more
More about Wally Lamb...
She's Come Undone The Hour I First Believed We Are Water Wishin' and Hopin' Couldn't Keep it to Myself:  Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution

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“I am not a smart man, particularly, but one day, at long last, I stumbled from the dark woods of my own, and my family's, and my country's past, holding in my hands these truths: that love grows from the rich loam of forgiveness; that mongrels make good dogs; that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things. This much, at least, I've figured out. I know this much is true.” 224 likes
“But what are our stories if not the mirrors we hold up to our fears?” 115 likes
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