I Know This Much Is True

“Do you sometimes want to destroy your brother?”

“No,” I said, struggling to hold it together, “Yes”.

She waited.  Watched me crumble.

“No! Yes! No! Yes! No! Yes!”

I have long to write this review but didn’t know how to do it.  I don’t usually think and re-think the book I’ve finished.  But this book is one of the few.  I reflected back on the things I’ve read, the experiences that the characters went through, as I journeyed it together with them.  I believed that I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb is the only book that I read and cried in almost every page.

Is it possible to love your brother and hate him at the same time?  It is the biggest question.  Dominick and Thomas Birdsey are identical twin brothers.  Both had problems.  Thomas suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and Dominick, the normal one is a broken man.  Apart from having to take care of his brother all his life, Dominick, who worked as a painter is leading a depressing and difficult life, he lost his only child due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), at the result, his marriage ended.  With the stresses he has to go through, he also displays classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Things start to change dramatically for Dominick when Thomas cuts off his hand at the public library.  That ended him up at Hatch – maximum security.  Concerned of his brother’s safety (Dominick was covertly informed of the sexual abuse) he’s fighting to have his brother released.

In the course of that fight, Dominick sees a therapist Dr. Rubina Patel, an Indian psychologist, employed at Hatch.  He did it at first for the sake of Thomas’ interest, then for his own sake.

“That’s the trouble with survival of the fittest, isn’t it, Dominick?  The corpse at your feet.  That little inconvenience.”

Dominick had promised his mother that he would take care of Thomas – a promise he meant to keep; a promise that he carries heavily on his shoulder.  As the story progresses, there are many dramas, heartbreaks, anger, failures, childhood traumas, fear, and even death.  Yes, Thomas died.  It was suicide, just when Dominick successfully got him out.

However, despite the depressing theme, the story is quite moving and inspirational.  Throughout the course of the story, Dominic must confront the pain of his past, and the dark secrets deep within himself.  I think every part of the plot is necessary to uncover and to really understand Dominick’s past.  It is in fact, also a story of forgiveness.

“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 rick loam of forgiveness; that mongrels make good dogs; that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things.”

“With destruction comes renovation.”

“It is all connected Dominick,” she said.  “Life is not a series of isolated ponds and puddles; life is this river you see below, before you.  It flows from the past through the present on it’s way to the future.”

This is one of the books that have never left me.  That connection that the writer made between the protagonist and the readers is just incredible.  I think a life experience that anybody can relate to.  A very powerful novel, a very deeply moving that revealed humanity’s deepest needs and fears, and the desire for love and acceptance.

I highly recommend this book for everyone.


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