I Know This Much Is True (4 Cassettes)

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Overview

Oprah's latest book club selection!

New York Times Best Seller

At 40, Dominick Birdsey's entire life has been compromised and constricted by anger and fear: by the schizophrenic twin brother he both deeply loves and resents, and by the past they shared with their adoptive father, Ray, a spit-and polish ex-Navy man and their long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid, self-conscious woman.

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I Know This Much Is True

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Overview

Oprah's latest book club selection!

New York Times Best Seller

At 40, Dominick Birdsey's entire life has been compromised and constricted by anger and fear: by the schizophrenic twin brother he both deeply loves and resents, and by the past they shared with their adoptive father, Ray, a spit-and polish ex-Navy man and their long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid, self-conscious woman.

Born in the waning moments of 1949 and the opening minutes of 1950, the boys are physical mirror images who grow into separate yet connected entities. But Dominick's talent for survival his escape from Ray's wrath and the genetic fate that is Thomas will be put to the ultimate test when Thomas, a Bible-spouting zealot, commits an unthinkable act that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick's lives.

Set against the vivid panoply of twentieth century America and filled with richly drawn, memorable characters, this deeply moving and thoroughly satisfying story brings to light humanity's deepest needs and fears, of our aloneness, our desire for love and acceptance, and our struggle to survive at all costs. Joyous, mystical, and exquisitely written, I Know This Much Is True is an extraordinary audio experience that will leave no listener untouched.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Lamb explores rebirth, destruction, and forgiveness in this contemporary version of a tale from ancient Hindu mythology. Dominick Birdsey's alienation from his paranoid schizophrenic twin brother, Thomas, becomes more severe when Thomas commits an unbelievable act of self-mutilation. Gradually the story of the twins' painful past emerges, revealing their abusive stepfather, overly timid mother, and Dominick's love-hate relationship with his brother. Read by Ken Howard.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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 thanks to well-sustained dramatic tension, funky gallows humor and some shocking surprises, this sinuous story of one family's dark secrets and recurring patterns of behavior largely succeeds in its ambitious reach. The narrative explores the theme of sibling responsibility, depicting the moral and emotional conundrum of an identical twin whose love for his afflicted brother is mixed with resentment, bitterness and guilt. Narrator Dominick Birdsey, once a high-school history teacher and now, at 40, a housepainter in upstate Connecticut, relates the process that led to his twin Thomas's schizophrenic paranoia and the resulting chaos in both their lives. The book opens with a horrific scene in which Thomas slices off his right hand, declaring it a sacrifice demanded by God. Flashbacks illuminate the boys' difficult childhoods: illegitimate, they never knew their father; diffident, gentle Thomas was verbally and physically abused by their bullying stepfather, who also terrorized their ineffectual mother. Scenes from the pivotal summer of 1969, when Dominick betrayed Thomas and others in crucial ways, are juxtaposed with his current life: his frustrating relationship with his scatterbrained live-in, Joy; his enduring love for his ex-wife, Dessa; his memories of their baby's death and of his mother's sad and terrified existence. All of this unfolds against his urgent need to release Thomas from a mental institution and the psychiatric sessions that finally force Dominick to acknowledge his own self-destructive impulses. Lamb takes major risks in spreading his narrative over more than 900 pages. Long stretches are filled with the raunchy, foul-mouthed humor of teenaged Dominick and his friends. Yet the details of working-class life, particularly the prevalence of self-righteous male machismo and domestic brutality, ring absolutely true. Though the inclusion of a diary written by the twins' Sicilian immigrant grandfather may seem an unnecessary digression at first, its revelations add depth and texture to the narrative. Lastly, what seems a minor subplot turns out to hold the key to many secrets. In tracing Dominick's helplessness against the abuse of power on many levels, Lamb creates a nuanced picture of a flawed but decent man. And the questions that suspensefully permeate the novelthe identity of the twins' father; the mystery of the inscription on their grandfather's tomb; the likelihood of Dominick's reconciliation with his ex-wifecontribute to a fully developed and triumphantly resolved exploration of one man's suffering and redemption. BOMC main selection
Library Journal
In his second novel (after She's Come Undone, LJ 5/1/92), Lamb details the pain and perversions of generations of dysfunctional families in the struggle between twin brothers at midlife. The Birdsey brothers are as different in nature as they are identical in appearance: Thomas, the sweet one, favors their meek, harelipped mother, while Dominick is strong and angry like the Sicilian grandfather for whom he was named. When paranoid schizophrenic Thomas, believing himself an agent of God, cuts off his right arm in the public library to try to avert war in the Persian Gulf, Dominick, his love for Thomas tainted by guilt and resentment, once again becomes his brother's protector. But the psychologist treating Thomas sees Dominick as the twin who might be saved, and together they examine Dominick's childhood with a bullying stepfather, the marriage that failed after the death of an infant daughter, and the newly recovered autobiography of his grandfather. Lamb's craftsmanship and characterizations are exceptional, but this litany of suffering is overwhelming, leavened only slightly by the last few pages, and the ongoing analysis leaves little for thoughtful readers to ponder or discuss. Fine work, relentless in its effect. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Arlington, VA
Library Journal
Actor Ken Howard gives an excellent reading of Lamb's (She's Come Undone, Audio Reviews, LJ 5/15/97) gripping drama. Dominick and Thomas Birdsey are identical twin brothers born on New Year's Eve 1949-50. By the late 1960s, Thomas is a paranoid schizophrenic both loved and hated by Dominick. Lamb's novel presents the twins' story set against the twists and turns of late-20th-century America. Thomas's illness coupled with the Birdseys' upbringing with an abusive father and passive mother profoundly shape Dominick's life. However, Thomas's self-mutilation on the eve of the Persian Gulf War sets his brother on the path of coming to terms with his family, the loss of his daughter, and a reconciliation with his former wife. This is not an easy novel to hear, but it is engrossing from the start. Recommended for all collections.--Stephen L. Hupp, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Lib., PA
Kirkus Reviews
Both a moving character study and a gripping story of family conflict are hidden somewhere inside the daunting bulk of this annoyingly slick second novel by Lamb (the popular Oprah selection She's Come Undone, 1992). The character (and narrator) is Dominick Birdsey, a 40-year-old housepainter whose subdued life in his hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut, is disturbed in 1990 when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic whose condition is complicated by religious mania, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation. The story is that of the embattled Birdseys, as recalled in Dominick's elaborated memory-flashbacks and in the "autobiography" (juxtaposed against the primary narrative) of the twins' maternal grandfather, Italian immigrant (and tyrannical patriarch) Domenico Tempesta. But Lamb combines these promising materials with overattenuated accounts of Dominick's crippled past (the torments inflicted on him and Thomas by an abusive stepfather, a luckless marriage, the crib death of his infant daughter), and with a heavy emphasis on the long-concealed identity of the twins' real father—a mystery eventually solved, not, as Dominick and we expect, in Domenico' self-aggrandizing story, but by a most surprising confession. This novel is derivative (of both Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides and the film Dominick and Eugene), it pushes all the appropriate topical buttons (child abuse, AIDS, New Age psychobabble, Native American dignity, and others), and it works a little too hard at wringing tears. But it's by no means negligible. Lamb writes crisp, tender-tough dialogue, and his portrayal of the decent, conflicted Dominick (who is forced, andblessed, to acknowledge that "We were all, in a way, each other") is convincing. The pathetic, destroyed figure of Thomas is, by virtue of its very opacity, both haunting and troubling. A probable commercial bonanza, but both twice as long and not as much as it should have been. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780694519408
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged, 4 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb is the author of the New York Times and national bestseller The Hour I First Believed, as well as the novels She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, both #1 New York Times bestsellers and Oprah's Book Club selections. He lives in Connecticut with his family.

Ken Howard received a Theatre World Award for his role as Thomas Jefferson in 1776 and a Tony Award® for his performance in Child's Play. He has starred in four television series and appeared in many full-length features and made-for-television films.

Biography

The desire to write fiction hit Wally Lamb comparatively late in life. He was in his 30s, living in Connecticut, working as a high school English teacher, and relishing his role as a brand new father, when he began his first story. As he worked his way through several drafts, he was suddenly struck by how little he knew of the writer's craft. Determined to improve his skills, he enrolled in the M.F.A. program at Vermont College.

Lamb blossomed at Vermont, where he learned two important and liberating lessons from his teacher and mentor Gladys Swann: (1.) Never write with a particular audience in mind; write for yourself, and let the audience find you. (2.) There's no such thing as an original story; the writer's job is to recast a familiar tale in his or her own way. Acting on Swann's advice, he immersed himself in mythology and reread the works of Joseph Campbell and Heinrich Zimmer.

In 1992, eight years after completing graduate school, Lamb published his first novel. The story of a tremendously overweight woman who triumphs over a lifetime of misery, pain, and abuse, She's Come Undone became a surprise bestseller, and several publications, including The New York Times, placed it on their year-end "best of" lists. Then, in 1997, kingmaker Oprah Winfrey selected it for her prestigious Book Club, catapulting Lamb into the literary limelight.

By the time he received Oprah's endorsement, Lamb was nearly finished with his second novel. Published in 1998, I Know This Much Is True garnered rave reviews for its sensitive portrayal of twin brothers, one of whom suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. To Lamb's surprise, Oprah beckoned a second time, praising his sophomore effort with these admiring words: "It's not just a book, it's a life experience."

Lamb is tremendously grateful for the boost the Oprah experience has given his career. "It opened me up to so many more millions of readers I might not have had," he told USA Today, "but it's also a double-edged sword." At best a painstakingly slow writer, he found himself crippled by writer's block, choking on the pressure to produce a worthy third novel. "I had all those Oprah readers with their expectations in my writing room. I had to open my office door and shoo everybody's expectations out of there." The process took nearly a decade, but finally, in 2008, Lamb published The Hour I First Believed, an ambitious epic that touches on a rich ragout of sociopolitical themes, including the Columbine killings, Hurricane Katrina, and the Iraq War.

In addition to his own work, Lamb has edited two bestselling anthologies of writing authored by inmates at York Correctional Institute, the maximum security women's prison in Niantic, Connecticut, where he began teaching in 1999. Lamb speaks lovingly of his students, some of whom have evolved into wonderful writers. The first anthology, Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters, was published in 2003 to great critical acclaim and earned for one of the inmates the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award. It also became the center of legal controversy. Following publication, the State of Connecticut attempted to sue the women authors -- not for the modest earnings the book would net them after they left prison, but for the entire cost of their incarceration: $117 a day! The suit was settled, thanks to the intervention of sympathetic officials, legislators, and journalists. In 2007, Lamb published I'll Fly Away, a second anthology of the York inmates' writing.

Good To Know

Raised in a blue-collar corner of Connecticut, Lamb grew up in the looming shadow of Norwich State Hospital, a sprawling facility for the mentally ill. Now closed, the institution played a part in Lamb's family history. As an adult, Lamb learned that the grandfather he had never known had been locked up in the hospital for a violent attack on his wife. He later discovered that his grandfather had died of brain cancer and wondered if illness had provoked the violence. Unsurprisingly, the themes of incarceration and mental illness play important roles in his stories.

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    1. Hometown:
      Willimantic, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 17, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Norwich, Connecticut
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Education, University of Connecticut, 1972; M.A. in Education, 1977; M.F.A. in Writing, Vermont College, 1984

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide


A Note From the Author
"Reading a novel is a highly personal experience and I think different readers will take different things from it. As for me, the experience of writing the book has reinforced for me the truths that Dominick had to learn: that love grows from forgiveness, that "mongrels" make good dogs, and that the roundness of life's design may be a sign that there is a presence beyond ourselves."

Topics for Discussion
As an award-winning teacher of writing, Wally Lamb has been honored for his exceptional ability to communicate the power and majesty of the written word to his students. Hoping to inspire thoughtful discourse on his own novel, Wally has graciously supplied these discussion questions.

  • Wally Lamb has said that what interested him most about his character, Dominick Birdsey, was the protagonist's conflictedness. Discuss some of the ways in which, as both child and adult, Dominick is pulled in opposing directions and wrestles with conflicting emotions.
  • How does this novel reflect the attitudes toward and the treatment of the mentally ill as they have evolved through the 20th century?</<P>
  • Do you see Dominick Birdsey as a hero or an anti-hero? Why?
  • The author has commented that his discovery of an ancient Hindu myth, "The King and the Corpse," allowed him to discover, in turn, Dominick's story. In this ancient tale, a cadaver whispers riddles into the ears of a naive king and the solving of these puzzles allows the king to save himself. In what ways does the plot of I Know This Much Is True follow a similar path
  • Wally Lamb has said, "Whereas Dolores Price, themain character of my first novel, She's Come Undone, deals with her pain and fear by imploding, Dominck tends to wrestle with pain and fear by exploding." Do females and males tend to respond differently to emotional pain? If so, why
  • The principal female characters of this novel are Concettina Birdsey, Dessa Constantine, Lisa Sheffer, Dr. Rubina Patel, Ignazia Tempesta, and Prosperine Tucci (the monkey). Discuss I Know This Much Is True's depiction of women.
  • Wally Lamb has stated that a worthwhile novel should not only draw you into the story but also kick you in the pants so that you'll be more inclined to go out and fix the world. Do you agree or disagree?
  • I Know This Much Is True is in development as a major motion picture. If you were the casting director, which actors would you choose for the major roles?
  • Discuss the themes of mirror vs. images, wholeness vs. fragmentation, connection vs. separation as they are explored in I Know This Much Is True.
  • To what extent is Dominick Birdsey's life shaped by his ethnicity? To what extent do you feel your life is defined by the place and the culture of your forebearers? Discuss. About the Author: Wally Lamb's first novel She's Come Undone received rave reviews when it was published in 1992. The book was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards' Art Seidenbaum Prize for First Fiction and was named as one of the most notable books of the year by numerous publications, including The New York Times Book Review and People magazine. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing program, Lamb currently teaches at the University of Connecticut. He is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction and a Missouri Review William Peden fiction prize winner. A nationally honored teacher of writing, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and their three sons.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 684 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(512)

4 Star

(107)

3 Star

(40)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 686 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2008

    A True Page Turner

    This novel touched me in so many ways. From the length of the novel (897 pages), I thought that it was going to be a dragged-out novel that was very slow paced and boring however, my assumptions were proven wrong. From the very first chapter of this extraordinary novel I was HOOKED! The rate at which shocking events happen is uncanning and sudden. Wally Lamb relates his characters to the audience both mentally and physically, while pertaining to the ethos and pathos of the readers. You grow with the main character (Dominick) as he expresses his past, his fears, his doubts and feel every emotion that he is feeling. This novel is overflowing with conflict, drama, uncertainty and resolutions that cause it to be a true tear-jerker. Being a twin myself I noticed that the talented Wally Lamb got every detail about twins down correctly: the differences, the similarities, the hate, the love, and the jealousy. Each time an new event occurred in the novel, it caused me to think of my brother (my other half) due to the gifted writing style of Mr. Lamb. I, without a doubt, would recommend this novel! It causes people to think about their past, their present and their future. Furthermore, it gives people insight to the steps one needs to take in life on multiple levels: for forgiveness for love for redemption and, of course, for peace.

    60 out of 65 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2010

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    Wally Lamb is now a favorite author of mine

    A year ago my teenage nieces recommended this book to me. I typically do not like reading fictional accounts of mental illnesses, as I am a Mental Health Professional and typically people mistake mental disorders for others or portray them in a bad way. Wally Lamb did not do this with I Know This Much is True. Although the book is large, I could not put the book down and finished it in two weeks. I found that he accurately portrayed schizophrenia and how schizophrenia affects loved ones. However, that is not what the main story is in I Know This Much is True. The book captivated me until the very end. I find myself frequently discussing this book among my friends and recommending it to others as well. I have also read other works by Wally Lamb and I have enjoyed them all, I do believe that I Know This Much is True is one of my favorites. I had borrowed this book from my nieces and after reading I had to buy it and add it to my permanent collection. I recommend this book to all types of people.

    32 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2009

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    I can't say enough

    The book is almost 1000 pages (in the trade paper format, anyway), yet I've read it about six times. I picked it up one day out of curiosity and couldn't put it down until I had finished every last word. That was when I was about 14, and now that I'm older, it's still one of the most well-written, poignant, haunting books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Whether you're young or old, man or woman, you will certainly enjoy this book.

    21 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

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    ENTRANCING!

    Wally Lamb takes the reader on another fascinating journey into the heart and soul of three generations of dysfunction. Lamb weaves an intricate plot surrounding Dominick Birdsey and his paranoid schizophrenic identical twin Thomas, the boys of a meek and secretive mother. When Thomas ends up in a maximum security hospital, Dominick begins his quest to save his brother by reflecting on his past and his family's. Lamb successfully uses the "story within a story" to reveal the past. Lamb breaks the readers' hearts with his all too real account of mental illness and the painful patterns of family dysfunction and tragedy. His characters develop and invite us into their world and their minds. The reader can't help but be connected to these characters. Incredible!

    20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2009

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    Truly magnificent, and insightful!

    Three cheers for Wally Lamb. I recently finished reading "my favorite book of all time" for the second time. I first read it about ten years ago when it first was published. I'd very much enjoyed his first novel, and happened to finish it just as IKTMIT was released. I was a younger person then and not as wisdom filled (though this book gave me a great deal more). It's impact at the time was very strong, and I've happily promoted the novel to folks around me as the previously stated above. The second time around this book had an even greater impact on me. I think this time it just astonished me as to how well put together this story is. The characters are fully realized, and the journey of Dominick is truly of epic proportions. I'm not sure though unless you've had a brush with the books sujbect matter, in some fashion, that one could truly appreciate what Lamb has in fact done here. I don't know how he constructed this novel so beautifully after having read that he just begins and never knows what the end is. There is too much meticulously strung together timelines, and plot points. Only a brilliant mind could have done this. My hat is off to Wally Lamb for what I truly believe is a masterful work of contemporary literature. A great American Novel that packs a wallup on your mind and your soul. Savor every moment. This is the only book I have ever read twice. How much more of an endorsement could one give.

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2010

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    Too Many Unnecessary Disturbing Plot Lines

    Because this book is so widely popular, it feels odd writing a review that isn't overwhelmingly positive. Is it engaging, unique, and unpredictable? Absolutley. Realistic, inspiring/thought-provoking, and addicting? No quite. The plot lines are unbelievable, and a LOT of them are very disturbing and unnecessary. Rape, murder, perversion, beastiality, broken families, abondonment, depression, suicide, and diseases (both chronic and sexually transmitted). This book would have been great if even just half of those were eliminated. I'm tired of reading stories that indulge the horrific things in life, and squeeze in as many scenarios as possible. This is the third book by Wally Lamb that I've read, and the last.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Don't hesitate, it's a great read!

    This was the first Wally Lamb book I ever read. I read it over the summer on loan from my Aunt and was completely taken with the story and characters. The story was engrossing, I couldnt get enough and didnt put the book down till it was done. The writing wasnt too juvenile, a common complaint I make these days, it was very rich and satisfying. I came home and imediatly ordered it from B&N so that I could have a copy for my library.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2010

    Gave me a read I will never forget.

    Being relatively young, I haven't had time to read too many life-changing books. I've dropped some mediocre ones, struggled through some good ones that I just wasn't mature enough to get into, and I've been swept off my feet only a few times. I Know This Much Is True is one of the only books so far that has touched me on a very deep level emotionally: The narrator's suffering is described so perfectly that even with my limited life experience, I could relate strongly. It's daunting in terms of length, but I powered through it half a week, mainly due to the sheer mental impact of the book--I was impossible to distract while reading it and thought about it whenever I wasn't. It'll make you think as hard as it makes you want to cry.

    (My only real qualm with this book is the sex. It definitely isn't gratuitous, but it is frequent and awfully graphic.)

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Incredible book!

    I was a little afraid to read this one, knowing what it was about, so much dysfunction! But the multitude of wonderful reviews always entices me and pulls me in. The twists and turns left me speechless and it was impossible to put down. The complicated relationships in this book and how the characters related to each another were so convincingly done. The parallels from the past to the present were amazing. The emotional roller coaster was moving, challenging and intriguing and full of raw vulnerability. The 900 pages had me experiencing every range of human emotion. Lamb captured the essence of human nature. There is great use of imagery throughout, amazing perception, introspection, great depth of character and great writing that make up the most memorable reads. Parts of this book were so disturbing that I wanted to quit reading, only to find myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading so I was quickly drawn back in. This is a gripping, touching story, full of rage and redemption, courage and relief and is an incredible book that is well worth the long read!

    Others I've recommended to my book club are ROSES, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, PERFECT and WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2009

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    Very pleasurable reading...

    Wow, I'm glad I finally discovered Wally Lamb!

    "I Know This Much Is True" is a great book. At a mammoth 897 pages, reading the book itself is a journey, as is the story of twins, Dominick & Thomas Birdsey.

    Very rewarding throughout, it puts you right there in the characters lives. Wally Lamb masterfully draws you in with each character and real life drama that is never sugar coated. Anyone can relate to someone in this book in your real life.

    In my opinion, any book that can make you feel, really truly feel for the characters, is a masterpiece. Lamb's characters will have you on their side one minute and then you will be against them the next.

    As another reviewer stated, this is one of those books that becomes part of your life for a while. For me that is absolutely true, I looked forwarding to reading it every night for the two weeks it took me to finish.

    A very, very well crafted plot and alot of surprises and unexpected outcomes in the end. As your reading this book, you'll naturally make alot of assumptions and have your own idea of whats going to happen next or at the end and Wally Lamb will leave you dumbfounded every time.

    A wonderful book, I know this much is true!

    After finishing "I Know This Much Is True", I'm looking forward to reading Wally's other novels, "She's Come Undone" & "The Hour I First Believed

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A PIECE OF WORK!

    An emotional roller coaster. Wally Lamb takes us on another incredible journey into the heart and soul of three generations of dysfunction. Lamb weaves an intricate plot surrounding Dominick Birdsey and his paranoid schizophrenic identical twin Thomas. A piece of work!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    A Worthy and Substantial Read

    This is the kind of book where, once you get to the end, you feel like you've just been through a grueling life journey, and are now a wiser person. I was very moved by the relationship between Dominique and Tom, his mentally ill twin brother. The usual complexity of love and conflict in close relationships is layered with additional challenges in this relationship, where responsibility, guilt, protectiveness, anger, and identity confusion are all magnified by mental illness and by being a twin. This book is quite an undertaking, both because of its sheer size, as well as the emotional intensity. There is a section or two in the book that drags, but it's so worth the effort. Some books are like fast-food--quick reads that you don't expect to add much to your life; this book is more like a substantial meal--in reading it, you're so much more likely to change, to think through your own sense of what it means to be family, the impact of the past, and the limits of being able to save loved ones from their own selves.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A great author

    EXCELLENT BOOK, I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!!! Wally Lamb is a fantastic author

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2009

    WALLY LAMB...YOU MOVE ME TO TEARS

    Wally Lamb will ALWAYS be my number 1 author of all time. The way he wrote this book...is undescripable. It's so well written, and it's a page-turner. My mother literally is CHASING me around the house to put the book down, so I could focus on chores and finish homework at a resonable hour. Dominick, I fell in love with him- he is so funny, smart, and...a growing character. He really rubs off on you, and I just LOVED Thomas. As a matter of fact, I was actually crying when I found out he died, because, that...was the climax of the story, Thomas's death. You know though? There is something I would like to point out to other reveiwers of this book. You have think the last 250 pages are slow, but that is only because Thomas died, and it's Dominick's life is beginning to get back on track. This is my favorite book of all time, and I was so much in love with it, I had 'She's come Undone' right next to me, and I DIDN'T even bother to read it- I didn't want to- This book just moved me to absolute tears, and I was so SAD when this book ended. SAD- not DISAPPOINTED. And I LOVE how Wally Lamb ended book when he says "...That God exists in the roundness of things. This much, at least, I've figured out. I know this much is true." Beautiful Wally Lamb. Oh, and I STRONGLY suggest getting the audio tapes to listen to (24 cassettes) with information that is not in the book. You will LOVE IT!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2008

    Long..but great

    I have to admit when i picked up this book, I was a little intimidated. But from the very first page i was hooked. I do have to say that the ending started to get a little slow the last 200 pages or so but not enough to make me stop reading. Recommended definitely.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing Book

    I read Wally Lamb's book "She's Come Undone" and waited with breathless anticipation for his next book and was not disappointed by "I Know This Much is True". I keep few books for my permanent library and this one is definitely one I will keep. The story is a touching, poignant observation of sibling love and compassion as it relates to the relationship of identical twin brothers. One "normal" and one suffering from a severe mental illness. It asks and challenges the question "am I my brother's keeper" and at what point must you draw a line for self preservation. Wally Lamb has an intuitive and insightful grasp of his characters and a way of writing that wraps you in his world....and leaves you hoping for them at the end.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    Hearing Voices

    Imagine being an identical twin to a man that is considered crazy and everywhere you go people think you are him. Dominick Birdsey has to deal with this problem. In I Know This Much Is True By: Wally Lamb, a brother struggles to separate himself from his schizophrenic brother that claims to hear voices of people that are trying to kill him. From childhood to adult lives you follow the twins through all the crazy events that take place in Three Rivers, Connecticut. I Know This Much Is True is a great book because of the way it is written, it's insight into what people with schizophrenia go though, and it's exciting events.
    First, this is a great book because of the way it is written. The chapters going from being the present events to past events makes you want to keep reading the book because you want to know more about both. By telling it in order he would have lost some of the suspense. It also was also good because you got some of the background as you went along. If he would have put it all in the beginning it would have been really boring and you probably wouldn't want to read it all to get to the main event.
    Second, this book shows what people with the disorder go though because it talks about the voices he hears and how scared it makes him. He thinks he hears the voice of god and people that want to kill him because he can hear god. Thomas can't even go to a restaurant without thinking the Soviets or the CIA is after him. It also shows how powerful the disease is because he cuts off his own hand because he thinks god is talking to him. It is frustrating for Dominick because he can't help him no matter how hard he tries. Because of the things the disease causes him to do and some of the other events in the book I would not suggest this book for kids.
    Third, this book is great because of the exciting events. From getting caught with drugs when he was a teenager to dealing with Thomas cutting of his hand this book tells of many crazy things that happen in Dominick's life. With everything there is to tell about Dominick's life and his brother's condition there is never a dull moment in this book. The very first thing it tells you about is his brother cutting off his hand and from there they just keep adding more things that make you wonder how a person can think that way.
    In conclusion, when you read I Know This Much Is True you won't want to put it down. You will wonder is people really think like that and think that it is really interesting. The way that it is written, the insight on how schizophrenia affects people, and the exciting events make this a great book. Learn what can drive a man to cut off his own hand and what it would be like to be his twin brother in this thrilling novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2002

    Interesting, but not worth it

    The length is not what turned me off. It was the superfluous vulgarity and violence. Wally took everything bad about people and showcased it in this epic-length book. I know everyone else in the world loves it, judging from all the '5 stars' reviews, but I had an awful time reading it. I kept thinking it would get better, and it never did! I loved 'She's Come Undone,' but Wally did a 360 on this one.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2000

    BORING and SLOW

    As an avid book reader I found this book very slow moving, and boring. Didn't feel it lived up to the hype. Never finished it. Maybe I will give it a try at the shore. I got about 1/2 way through and moved on.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    This book was a big disappointment!  More of a pity party, with

    This book was a big disappointment!  More of a pity party, with too many unnecessary characters, too much dwelling on the past which had little to do with Thomas, like teenage sex, drugs, Dominick's ex he can't forget, and other escapes.  this is a very long book in which the reader keeps thinking &quot; When are you going to get back to the real story of poor Thomas?  It could have been so much better... I finally had to keep skipping chapters to get to the meat of it!   Some authors just don't know  when to quit.  I would have edited this book by half!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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