Favorites: I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

15 Apr

This much at least, I’ve figured out. I know this much is true. Wally Lamb, I Know This Much is True.

Wally Lamb’s novel is a family drama in the traditional sense.  The nuclear and extended family can serve as a snow globe for an author; a tiny mirror of what’s happening in America reflected in a familiar set of characters – father, mother, children. And the generational chasm representing changing social values is certainly present here.

But here,  the primary focus is on why we love our families. In I Know This Much is True, identical twins Dominick and Thomas Birdsey are raised by a shy, dreamy mother and abusive step-father.  Dominick is the steady force in the family, while Thomas descends into schizophrenia, eventually chopping his hand off in the middle of a public library, landing himself in a criminal mental institution, as their mother dies of cancer.

Familial love trumps all in this book that should be terribly depressing.  We see a thousand reasons Dominick should hate his brother. His mother. His step-father. In Thomas, Dominick is forced to watch his physical mirror image destroyed by mental illness, and forced to sacrifice his own relationships to save Thomas from abuse at the hands of a corrupt institution.  After his mother dies, Dominick struggles to understand her through his grandfather’s egotistical family history.  Trying to keep his business afloat, Dominick slowly comprehends his step-fathers life and motivations, and figures out who his biological father is.

Ultimately, the book is about Dominick’s simultaneous hatred and resentment towards his family, and how he reconciles those feelings with his undying love for his brother, mother, step-father, wife. Family is sacred, but this book shows how hard it can be to maintain the sanctity of the family.

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One Response to “Favorites: I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb”

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  1. Eddy Wally « Smeets Beats - June 18, 2012

    […] Favorites: I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb (hellokatieo.wordpress.com) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Leave a comment […]

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