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I Know This Much is True

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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  257,569 Ratings  ·  7,774 Reviews
This much is true for sure: Lamb's second novel (after the bestselling, Oprah-selected She's Come Undone) is a hefty read. Some may be daunted by its length, its seemingly obsessive inclusion of background details and its many digressions. The topics it unflinchingly explores: mental illness, dysfunctional families, domestic abuse are rendered with unsparing candor. But th ...more
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Published 1998 by Recorded Books Evergreen
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Chrissy Jones No, don't agree! Have just finished it and rate it one of the best books I have ever read and I read a lot. Characterisation, storyline, beginning,…moreNo, don't agree! Have just finished it and rate it one of the best books I have ever read and I read a lot. Characterisation, storyline, beginning, ending, everything was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am lucky enough to have time for such a huge book but it was easy (if sometimes uncomfortable) to read. Have only just come on the site to check out Wally Lamb as I would like to get more books by him. Excellent.(less)
Cathy Agreed! I just finished it and thought it was definitely worth it. Yes, it is long and admittedly I found that a little daunting, so took it with me…moreAgreed! I just finished it and thought it was definitely worth it. Yes, it is long and admittedly I found that a little daunting, so took it with me on vacation so I only had to pack the one book. Made airport waits much more bearable. These characters will stick with me for some time. As well as reminding me of the lessons I still need to learn.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Heather
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: peace-corps, fiction
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
Pouting Always
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I'm glad I finally finished because it was one of those books I kept thinking about when I was in the middle of it and I had trouble getting things done until I knew what would happen. I really enjoyed it, I think it's hard to write a book with such a complex story line which all ends up coming together neatly in the end. Like some how even the mysticism and twists weren't over done and felt like they flowed nicely. I think this is one of my favorites now honestly.
Jennine Jones
Mar 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Carol
If I had an All-Time-Favorites shelf, this book would definitely be on it! Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True has addictive characters and is beautifully written with so much depth and feeling with absolutely no boring parts to detract from the story. The only bad thing about reading this book was wondering how the hell the next one will ever measure up! I loved the ending and truly wish it wasn't over!

If you have not read this wonderful novel, you are really missing out, and do not let the 9

...more
Traci
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Maciek
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
Rachel
Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Liz
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My friend Ron recommended this book to me, saying he thought it was something that I would enjoy. I owe him my thanks because he was right, although I didn’t exactly enjoy it… I rather loved it. I took so much from this story that I hardly know where to begin with a review.

This is what an exceptional author does: they put me inside the characters so that I know them and feel them for who they are and where they’ve been. Dominick is as rich a character as I’ve encountered in a long time and even
...more
Connie
Although this book is a chunkster at 897 pages, it was so engaging that I didn't want to put it down. Thomas and Dominick Birdsey are identical twins with very different personalities. The book opens in 1990 with Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, cutting off his hand as a protest against the Gulf War as he chants the Biblical verse "...and if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee...". After Thomas is put into a maximum security ward at the state mental hospital, Dominick t ...more
Taylor
Apr 25, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Gehring
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Elyse
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was another on of those 5 star books that I guess I never rated!

I wasn't always active on Goodreads you know --
There was a time I read before this site....lol
Spider the Doof Warrior
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
Kristen
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Judy
Mar 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Linda
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was a review with date started and finished but it didn't survive the import from Shelfari. Slowly adding my missing books but too time consuming to review again.
Bill
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely loved this book and cried my eyes out during the last 60 pages. This book was an experience! So much has been written about this book how much can I add?

For me the emotional complexity and intensity of the story instantly pulled me in and relentlessly riveted my attention through the 897 pages. But the intensity of my emotions was extremely mixed and volatile. By page 250 I wanted to abandon the book altogether as I encountered some powerful emotional reactions to rape, child abuse
...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I read this book years ago and just loved it. It still haunts me.
Dustin
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dustin by: Aaron{{REBLAST}} Boutilier


I finished it last night and it's good to be done. I enjoyed it overall, but it had a lot of potential that Lamb pretty much squandered, IMO. I mean no disrespect to the author, I'm just being honest. It's all I can be. There were some themes (such as mental illness and genuine forgiveness) that felt underdeveloped and sadly lacking.


Additionally, much of the final moments were neatly wrapped up, contrived, and very much reminds me of your typical Hollywood ending. And don't get me started on
...more
Erin
Feb 03, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Pam
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Siv30
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental-disorder
תומס ודומיניק תאומים זהים, נולדו מאב לא ידוע בסוף שנת 1949 תחילת שנת 1950. תומס נולד 6 דקות לפני דומיניק.

אמם התחתנה עם ריי, פועל צווארון כחול במפעל אלקטרוניקת צוללות, שנלחם במלחמת העולם ה2 ובקוריאה. לריי אין השכלה והתפיסות שלו לגבי החיים וההתנהגות של הבנים מושפעות מאידיאליים גבריים של עבודת כפיים ודימוי גברי אלים ובוטה שאינו מתיר מקום לחשש, לרגשנות בכלל ולרגשנות יתר בפרט או לכל חולשה שהיא.

יום אחד באוגוסט 1990, טרם פרוץ מבצע סופת מדבר (מה שמוכר אצלנו כמלחמת המפרץ ) תומס מגיע לספריה ציבורית עם סוג
...more
Anne
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Nash
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by FAR one of the best books I have ever read...hands down!

I read all kinds of books, but this book was something I normally wouldn't have read or been interested in. I'm SO glad I decided to give it a chance! At almost 900 pages, it was daunting, but those 900 pages are some of the best I've ever read!

Every emotion you have is brought out in this book! I can't stress enough how amazingly beautiful it is! Trust me... give this one a try, you'll be happy you did.
5 amazing, wonderful, b
...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.
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
Emily
Jul 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Cwides
Nov 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book could have been about 500 pages shorter. In addition to constantly repeating himself, as though you may have forgotten the relevant lessons, or stories, or who the characters are from 100 pages back, the writing is painfully slow... until the last 15 pages when life moves at lightening speed and everything gets wrapped up with a big shiny bow by a sentence or two saying how everything worked out for all of the characters for the best over the last several years. Lamb's female character ...more
Lynn
May 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is loved by many but I am not among them. The premise: identical twins only one of whom is schizophrenic, attracted me to this book. However the portrayal of schizophrenia was not 100% accurate which spoiled the book for me. On top of that I did not like the mixed up brother, abusive step-father, horrific grandfather, weak mother, betraying wife, sick brother, or any other of the unsavory characters. If I cannot root for at least one character (no matter how flawed) I cannot root for t ...more
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How Do You Read?? 6 115 Jan 15, 2017 08:29AM  
2017 Reading Chal...: I Know This Much is True 1 32 May 04, 2015 07:31AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb 3 45 Jan 08, 2015 11:26AM  
Wally Lamb, anyone? 65 364 Nov 15, 2014 12:26PM  
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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
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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.” 285 likes
“But what are our stories if not the mirrors we hold up to our fears?” 137 likes
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