Sunday, May 11, 2014

I Know This Much Is True

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

Disclaimer: This is an adult (or I suppose 'regular') fiction book. I usually blog about books that are considered young adult, but this was recommended to me and I took on the roughly 900 page paperback tome. So I'm going to give it a shot.

An amazon summary for a starting point, "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. . . .

One of the most acclaimed novels of our time, Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True is a story of alienation and connection, devastation and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm struggling to talk about this story because there are many different aspects of the book.

I'm going to make a metaphor.

Think of the narrator Dominick as a diamond; the diamond has many different facets to it that shape it into the complete picture. While each facet serves the function of helping to shape the diamond, the object stills remains as a diamond. It may become more polished, well defined or left rough and unattended. Sometimes a bit of both.

But it is still a diamond.

The book explores many different aspects of the diamond that is Dominick.

Some themes I found particularly interesting to trace through the book was the influence that Dominick's grandfather had on his mother, and what that influence in turn had on Dominick.

Dominick and Thomas had a very rough childhood with Ray as a father and Concettina as a mother who was 'weak willed'. Ray embraced the philosophy of tough love which Dominick states at one point that by today's standards (being 1990) it would be considered child abuse.

Growing up, Thomas had always been the 'weaker willed' twin while Dominick was the 'tough guy' who constantly struggled with the sense of when to stick up for his brother or to let Thomas deal with it on his own.

Neither of them were safe from Ray's parenting techniques (which were rough, and inappropriately violent (in my opinion)).

Later in life, Thomas is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and his journey to cope with such a condition begins.

While Thomas struggles with his own mind, Dominick struggles the strongest with his own battles. He can perceive how Ray treated them was wrong, struggles to understand how his mother, Concettina, could live with such a monster, and repeatedly attempts to do what he perceives as right. Dominick also seems to struggle a lot with the sheer lack of equality between his life and Thomas' life. As their identical twins, Dominick sometimes seems to believe the notion that they're identical people and keeps expecting the other shoe to drop (so to speak) for both himself and Thomas. He seems to be stuck in a state of waiting for Thomas to get better and also for himself to get better.

Dominick is a survivor though; he has great endurance for all the chaotic drama that happens in his life. The book becomes a truly irresistible read as that endurance is pushed farther and farther.

Little elements throughout the book come back to play later in the book in a big way. There don't seem to be any wasted words within the text as each line clarifies another facet to the diamond.

A spoiler land moment. The ending at first seemed a bit hastily wrapped up; but after letting it settle a bit more, I appreciate the ending. I don't think there needed to be any more explanation as Dominick has reached a healthy point in his life and I think that's a good notion to take away. Regardless of all the horror Dominick experienced, he took the steps that he needed to take to get to a better place. As the reader, I can be content to not know every detail at that point and just accept that he is better. It seemed like a good place for the book to end.


Happy reading!

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