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I Know This Much is True
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Product Description

Huge American bestselling novel that tells of identical twins: a paranoid schizophrenic and his brother whose life is dominated by his resentment of and love for his damaged twin Dominick Birdsey's whole existence is coloured by the knowledge that his twin brother can never be fully responsible for his frightening behaviour, while he himself has beaten the biochemical odds to remain sane. But at what cost? This powerful, heartwrenching drama draws on the deepest human emotions: the need to know oneself, responsibility to family, the influence of hidden history. The result is a highly acclaimed novel of survival, written with great sensitivity.

Oprah Book Club? Selection, June 1998: What if you were a 40-year-old housepainter, horrifically abused, emotionally unavailable, and your identical twin was a paranoid schizophrenic who believed in public self-mutilation? You'd either be a guest on the Jerry Springer Show or Dominick Birdsey, the antihero, narrator, and bad-juju magnet of I Know This Much Is True. Somewhere in the recesses of this hefty 912-page tome lurks an honest, moving account of one man's search, denial, and acceptance of self. This is no easy feat considering his grandfather seemed to take parenting tips from the SS and his grandmother was a possible teenage murderess, his stepfather a latent sadist, and his brother, Thomas, a politically motivated psychopath. Not one to break with tradition, Dominick continues the dysfunctional legacy with rape, a failed marriage, a nervous breakdown, SIDS, a car crash, and a racist conspiracy against a coworker--just to name a few.

A stretch, both literally and figuratively from his Oprah-christened bestseller, She's Come Undone, Lamb's book ventures outside the confines of the tightly bound beach read and marathons through a detailed, neatly cataloged account of every familial travesty and personal failure one can endure. At its heart lies Freud's "return of the repressed": the more we try to deny who we are, the more we become what we fear. Lamb takes Freud's psychological abstraction to the realm of everyday living, packing his novel with tender, believable dialogue and thoughtful observation. --Rebekah Warren

Customer Reviews:

  • ******
    To put it simply, I read a lot of books - fiction, nonfiction, some best-seller fluff once in a while - and this is my favorite book ever.
    I had it with me on a trip through Norway, and instead of watching the amazing landscape, the mountains, the fjords, etc... I was reading this book because I couldn't put it down....more info
  • Must Read!!!
    I read an average of about a book a week & this may be the best book I've read. The story feels real. The characters are flawed in a way that makes you feel more connected to them. The narrator of the story pulls you into his life of having a paranoid schizophrenic brother so well that you hurt with him & his family. It is well written, long but easy to read, funny, touching & tragic. I loved it....more info
  • The best fiction I have read in a long time
    Wow. Even if you have not gone through the exact stuff the characters go through, you will be able to relate their exeperiences to your own life. A good read, even at close to 1,000 pages. It has everything you look for in a novel: incredible characters, good writing, great plot, and lots of emotion....more info
  • One of my favorites!!
    I was intimidated by the length of the book but when my sister told me she read it twice I figured there must be something to it. I love this book and I didn't want it to end. At some point I thought I knew where the story was going....WRONG! The ending completely fooled me.
    Read it and enjoy! ...more info
  • ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS, EVER
    One of the things I appreciate most about this book is Lamb's ability to show the complexity and nobility of ordinary people. He doesn't pretty up anything, showing his characters accurately and empathetically. This is a story of great length and complexity. I enjoyed every minute, as did my reading group. I'm not going to repeat things that other reviewers have said, but I will note that Lamb set his story at exactly the right time. A new generation of effective drugs to treat schizophrenia burst forth in the 1980s and 90s, with the result that a diagnosis of schizophrenia is no longer a sentence to living hell. Today, schizophrenia is a treatable disease. As the parent of a schizophrenic, I was overjoyed to see my child become indistinguishable from the normal kids around her as new drugs enabled her to recover. Had Lamb set his story a little later, he would have had a different tale. As it is, he wrote a magnificent story smacking of ancient epics. ...more info
  • Worth the long read
    I liked this book, although it is really, really, really long and doesn't necessarily tell the story as well as it ought to be able to, given the length. I really liked the story of Dominick and Thomas as adolescents and Thomas's descent into schizophrenia, especially since I have a relative with schizophrenia whose story is similar up to a point. I also liked the love story between Dominick and Dessa, though I could have done without the rape scene, which is NOT satisfactorily resolved. The idea of Dominick's character being stuck in the middle between a mother who loved him less than she loved his brother and a stepfather who hated him less than he hated his brother was an intruguing one. And I didn't mind the neat ending. After that many pages, it was a relief. ...more info
  • Bad reviews? Say it isn't so!
    I read the one-star reviews posted here and felt my eyebrows move to the back of my head. Did we read the same book?

    It's a long book. Unless you have a severe case of attention deficit disorder, you should be able to get through 900 pages. If you can watch four hours of reality shows and sitcoms five nights a week, you should be able to get through 900 pages of ANYTHING!

    There was criticism of the last chapter. I loved the last chapter. Life doesn't always have to suck. Sometimes, life can be good. We can be happy at the ripe old age of 46. And we're due that if we've had the miserableness that Dominick had for the first 41 years of his life.

    Someone else said that this was bound to be one of the greatest American novels ever written and I agree. East of Eden always held that place for me, but I dare say Lamb may have displaced Mr. Steinbeck.

    A wonderful read (I loved the grandfather's journal, by the way) and a very moving story.

    ...more info
  • Great read
    This book goes over the psychological aspect of twins and makes it even more intense with one of the twins being schizophrenic. Fantastic to the final page....more info
  • Not Bad But Not Great
    I almost stopped reading this book several times. It has a good story line but it wears you down with his self-destructive nature. I found myself skipping pages to get back to the dialog...not a good sign....more info
  • amazingly written. an epic novel!
    I don't find many books that move me but I absolutely loved this book! It's deeply moving and covers so many aspects of human behavior and life in general. I didn't even know it was an Oprah read ( personally wouldn't have cared) BUT I loved this book so much that when I was done, I was going through withdrawals. ...more info
  • Absolute waste of time
    I rarely quit books especially if I have invested 400 pages into them, but I quit this one. I know Oprah likes Wally Lamb and I have enjoyed some Oprah books in the past but this was a huge disappointment. The main character is a bitter guy. Lamb does a poor job in character development. Would make a good Lifetime Channel movie.

    If you read an 800 page book, you should at least learn something if the writing is not so special, but there is no educational value either. There is a mentally ill chracter in the book so Lamb could have used this opportunity to educate the reader on some of those issues but I felt that it was minimally researched. Skip this one. If you want to read other Oprah books try:

    A Fine Balance (I think this Oprah's best selection so far)
    House of Sand and Fog...more info
  • Interesting, meaningful, and entertaining ...
    This book was everything that the reviews on here say it is. I don't read many contemporary novels because I found them disappointing, however, this was an entertaining and worthwhile read. I found myself taking my kindle everywhere not only because I wanted to learn the end of the story, but also because I found the story touched my mind and heart and many levels. I'll be reading Wally's Lamb's latest novel in the near future....more info
  • Hard to put down....
    When I first started reading this book, I thought it would take forever to get through. It ended up only taking one weekend, as I found it hard to put down and focus on other things. I absolutely had to know how the story continued. I am an avid reader and when a book is this captivating and you start to indulge in it, make sure you have free time on your hands, you'll need it. I also read his other novel and I will say that was enticing as well, this one was much deeper and intricate than She's Come Undone. I don't know how anyone could rate this only 1 star. To each is own, I guess. ...more info
  • This Much Is True
    I went into this book blind. I have not read "She's Come Undone". I was a little intimidated by the size of the book to begin with. I also read some reviews that said that all 900 pages were not needed.

    I couldn't disagree more. I enjoyed nearly every page of this book. I have not wanted to put down the book since I started. I think this was very well written and I look forward to reading more of his work....more info
  • Like riding in an old roller coaster...
    The book was pretty interesting,unfortunately it is a bit too long. I myself struggled to finish the book. I described the book "like riding in an old roller coaster" because it takes you to a long preparation for what is going on between the two brothers. It's like falling in line and you're so excited, then once you're in the ride getting past to the first peak it just doesn't go fast enough, and the ride just struggles to get up to the next peak. Then the excitement is lost. Basically while reading, I waited for something more exciting to happen and when I get to that point where excitement comes, it just didn't last. A few more hundreds of pages then it just takes you far enough to make you interested, but it always leaves you hanging. The ending is almost more of a fairy tale type, where he "lives happily ever after" type of thing. Maybe if he woke up from all this as a nightmare and realize that he is actually in the mental institution instead, probably my reaction would have been different.

    I would somewhat recommend this book to some who have patience for reading, but not for some who is look to just pass the time....more info
  • deserves 10 stars!
    VERRRRY GOOD book. It's LONG - 900+ pages and you still won't want it to end. GREAT!!!!...more info
  • Long, so boring, slow read, just sooo DULL
    I have to tell you, I got to half way through this novel and came downstairs to re-read the reviews. They gave me hope that the book was worth it.
    OHMYGOSH it's SO SLOW and so drawn out. I've read a lot of books and this is by far one of the most overrated. It's so slow and boring. The first half could have taken place over four pages.

    I hate reading a review written by someone who never finished the book, but ohmygosh this is dull and just horrid. If you read two chapters and have little more than a failing interest in the book, drop it. Dump it. Go read Pillars of The Earth..a long, drawn out book that is totally worth every page....more info
  • Page turner till the end!
    I really enjoyed this book. Wally lamb is such an engaging writer that once you start reading you don't want to put the book down. I read his other book, "She's come undone" too and it is excellent! I can't wait for him to come out with a new book!...more info
  • The best book I have ever read !!
    I loved this book. It actually has two stories going on in the same book.
    The best, best, best book !! Don't hestitate for a minute to buy it and read it. It will stay with you long after your done reading it....more info
  • Wally Lamb is simply amazing!
    Do not shy away from this book because of its length (or because of the Oprah sticker!). It's a fantastic story and when you're finished reading, you'll wish it had been even longer. It's true. This book is on my list of all-time favorites as is Lamb's earlier work, She's Come Undone. I'm now eagerly awaiting his new novel which I've just ordered.

    Every book lover simply must discover Wally Lamb....more info
  • This book doesn't end, it continues
    This book is too complex with characters, plots and generations to even begin to summarize. I don't feel like writing a book report. There are many reviews for this book that take on that roll, so I will skip that part. What I liked most about this book is that there is no end, but instead a continuation of the journey that Dominick (the narrorator) struggled with throughout the book. Nothing "happened" for him, no one bailed him out or saved the day for him - he had to make good things happen for himself. Engaging and trusting with others to get and accept that help was the primary struggle for him. The insight into domestic abuse (physical and emotional) that Lamb exercises in the characters in the book will help readers to understand why some of the characters are self-destructive and some of the others are so selfless and open. The ending is, I think, what every reader will hope for - but it did not come easy. The book made me wonder if I could do that much for myself, if I have the strength to examine my life, my past and my family the way that Domick does. As soon as Dominick realizes that not everyone/everything is about him things start to open up and change. And because the jounrey was so long and patterns recognized, at the end of the book I had confidence that Dominick had made long-term changes that would hold. That's why I feel the book didn't end, but rather continued....more info
  • I Know This Much is True
    I enjoyed this book. It is the February choice for our book club. We are meeting to discuss it this morning. It is nice to read something once in awhile where the character goes through so much but comes out happy and fulfilled in the end....more info
  • I know this much is true by Wally Lamb
    I had already read this book but had to have it for my own to share with friends. It is a page turner for sure. The first chapter will shock. It takes you for quite a ride. If you have ever felt responsible for someone who is out of control you will truly relate to the main character. I highly recommend for anyone who needs a strong catch to keep them interested. ...more info
  • 900 Pages of Woe is Me & It's Not My Fault
    I really disliked this book and quite frankly, was bored by it overall. This was a book club pick and after about 1/3 of the way through it, I read through to the end purely in devotion to the person who had selected it for that months reading...

    In direct opposition to the book--I'll keep my review short and sweet...

    The lead male is whiny, and a typical excuse maker and blamer. His entire life is a mess because of someone else, or because he couldn't take ownership--never because of his self-centeredness or poor choices. Nothing is ever his fault. It was all I could do to get through the book. Typical not-my-fault schlock.
    B O R I N G . . ....more info
  • Well worth the read
    Wally Lamb is an incredible, engaging writer. The book is long, but is well worth the read. I look forward to reading more fiction from this author. BTW, She's Come Undone, another book from Lamb, is very well done, also. ...more info
  • Ever Heard of Editors?
    I think it was Truman Capote who, talking about a book he didn't much like said, "That's not writing; it's typing." Ah, yes, and here we have a perfect example. A story that could have been told, easily, in 300 pages, written by someone who has no discipline whatsoever, takes nearly 900. Example: Dominick tells the social worker he hates his brother, he tells his brother he hates his brother, he tells his mother he hates his brother, he tells Leo he hates his brother, he tells the work crew foreman he hates his brother, he tells his college roommate he hates his brother, he tells the doctor he hates his brother, and lastly he tells the reader he hates his brother. This revelation must consume at least 150 pages in its various forms. We get it: HE HATES HIS BROTHER -- now for God's sakes, move on! And this is just one example. Here's another, chosen completely at random: the police station questioning of Dominick, the content of which could might have told in a few paragraphs, goes on for page after page after page after page. It's just plain bad writing, characteristic of someone who simply types whatever comes into his head on the assumption that whatever comes into his head is worth his typing and our reading. It isn't. Compare this book with Indignation by Philip Roth, ten times the story, 90% fewer words, the difference between a writer and a hack....more info
  • Hats off to Wally Lamb on this one!
    This was an incredible reading experience. Every character was superbly explored. The writing style was intense. The story was well woven in a way that each character you get to know so well has an integral part to the story in so many ways. At a lengthy 800+ pages, it was impossible to put down. Wally Lamb has a true gift of developing characters that you feel like you know and can sympathize with. The only downside to his writing is that at times it is too explicit. Sort of like an R-rated movie that some people cannot stomach. I realize that that is his style and it is something I was able to overcome and truly enjoy this amazing work.

    This will go down as one of my favorite books of all time so far. When I finished the book, I closed it and just said "WOW!". It was that good of a read. It was almost depressing in a way to have finished the story and then have no more pages to read.

    All in all, if you enjoy a novel that is well written, with a great weaving story line, and incredible characters, then this is the book for you. DEFINITELY RECOMMENDED READING!!!!!!!!!!!...more info
  • I Recuse Myself From This Book
    Why is it that in order to sell books, authors these days have to debase themselves by hawking their tomes on Oprah?

    By definition, that means the book is written for sub-literate soccer moms and other assorted half-wits.

    Even if this were a great book (it just may well be), I have only so much money in my budget for buying books.

    Therefore, I will have to take a pass.

    Authors: Think about the company you keep! Not all of us admire the bovine goddess of daytime TV....more info
  • Great Book
    Great book, I loved it start to finish. I am a nurse and thing this book really gives a great view into psych problems for those not exposed to it, and a view of what people with different disabilities have to deal with....more info
  • The CD Audio Version is the way to go with this one
    In my opinion, this is a great book, but it may be because I got a lot out of it personally. I could relate to the string of losses and family abuse and mental health issues that are covered in this book .. I don't think I would have finished it though, if I had read it ..it's such a long complex story.

    I listened to the Audio CD read by George Guidall.. I don't think anyone could have done a better job with the voices and characterizations, and the book really flew by. I liked it so much, I bought the CD, and every year or so, I re-listen to it. The back story of Dominic's grandfather is very good. ...more info
  • It's hard to get into..
    But it's worth it.

    It took me over 2 years to read this book. I struggled with not just with the length of the book - but also with the narration. I admit I didn't admire Dominick - I even disliked his character, and couldn't even bring myself to read more than a few paragraphs at times. But after midway in the novel, the tone picks up and somehow putting the book down is too hard. It wasn't an obligation to the author or to some higher power literary God - but insatiable curiousity of "the ending" and this gradual development of the main character spurred me to read more, to get to the ending which was all worth everything.

    I can't say this is my favorite book - but will it be one of the ones I really like? Yeah. Because Wally Lamb put himself in his novel, put himself in his characters, made life tough for them and then when they persevered they survived and were better for it: they lived after being emotionally dead for a period. A regeneration. And that's what's cool about him. And this book.

    I was close to tears when I read the last two pages. It was all so poetically beautiful that I didn't want it to end. And it didn't in a way - it only began.

    I recommend this book even if you find you can't finish it immediately. I'm not sure if anyone really could. It's worth a try like everything in life, and when you finish this, you'll be happy you did....more info
  • Oh come on, seriously!?!?!?
    So, I read this book because I heard that it was supposed to be amazing, and Wally Lamb's other book was pretty good. So when I started reading this, I could that it was his style... written well enough for me to keep turning the page. But after the first 300 pages, I was so over listening to the main character whine about how everything in his life sucks and it's not his fault. The ridiculousness of what continued on with this story resembles a storyline from Days of our Lives. And as I kept reading, the more outrageous the things that happened. HOW could this book be so popular and considered one of the BEST books? I think it makes a mockery of what happens in families with mental disease is hit, who DON'T have the craziest of overly dramatic lives and live day to day for REAL. I'm giving it two just because Wally Lamb puts good sentences together. The thing is, there's far too many of them that gets you nowhere, except further in his unbelieveable soap opera....more info