I Know This Much Is True: A Novel
by Wally Lamb
I picked this book up at my mother-in-law’s house while we were in the States and I meant to just thumb through the first little bit of it to keep myself occupied in quiet moments. It was 900 pages. I wasn’t going to really read the whole thing. Or so I thought. Before I knew it, I was in several chapters deep and I ended up
stealing borrowing the book from her to bring it on the plane with me. I read it all the way from South Carolina back to California. I finished it before we got to Santa Barbara.
This novel opens with the narrator’s twin brother walking into a public library and performing what he believes is a sacrifice in the name of God. From that stunning and horrific opening, the book unfolds into a tale about twin brothers: one, a paranoid schizophrenic, the other, the “normal brother” who tries to save him.
Dominick has always been Thomas’s protector. After Thomas’s actions in the library, Dominick wages a war against the public mental health system on Thomas’s behalf. However, as he fights against the system, the reader is treated to flashbacks on their childhood, the abuse they suffered, the demise of Dominick’s marriage after the loss of a child, and the devolution of Thomas as his mental illness takes over.
Readers might initially feel daunted by the 900-page book, but it is a gripping page-turner, full of incredibly realistic and poignant details of love despite dysfunction and humor in the face of tragedy. The characters feel so complex and real it reads more like a memoir. More importantly, it is a tale of self-destruction, sacrifice, and redemption. It is about twin brothers who need each other to feel whole, and the points at which they each have to sacrifice the other in order to save themselves.
If you’re looking for a book to get lost in (or a Christmas gift to occupy a loved one over the holiday season), I’d highly recommend I Know This Much Is True.