On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother Thomas entered the Three Rivers Connecticut Public Library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. -From I Know This Much Is True, page 1-
And thus begins Wally Lamb’s sweeping saga about two identical twins. Thomas battles schizophrenia. Dominick, the sardonic narrator of Lamb’s novel, struggles to come to terms with his family history and brother’s illness – artfully revealing their lives, uncovering secrets, and seeking redemption along the way.
Lamb has created a very long family narrative, that weaves forward and back on itself like the rushing waters of the river which runs through the brothers’ Connecticut town.
“Life is a river,” she repeated. “Only in the most literal sense are we born on the day we leave our mother’s womb. In the larger, truer sense, we are born of the past – connected to its fluidity, both genetically and experientially.” -From I Know This Much Is True, page 610-
Our hearts ache for Thomas, lost in a world of fantasy – but especially for the central character, Dominick who carries the guilt of having escaped Schizophrenia and longs to understand who he really is apart from the person who seems to be permanently linked to his brother and his past. In fact, this idea of linkedness threads its way through the pages over and over again.
“In a sense, your identical twin, he is you and you are he. More than most siblings, you are each other. No?” -From I Know This Much Is True, page 234-
Ultimately, the novel is about a man’s voyage through life and his search for identity against a backdrop of family secrets. Lamb forces the reader to explore the ideas of redemption and forgiveness, despair and hope, faith and doubt, grief and happiness. I Know This Much Is True requires patience to wade through, but is well worth the journey.