I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE by Wally Lamb
Dominick Birdsey learns about his family and himself in I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE, Wally Lamb's epic novel that centers on two men, identical twins, one of whom is mentally ill.
A whopping 897 pages (the trade paper back version), this book goes into great detail the life story of Dominick Birdsey, his paranoid schizoid brother Thomas, their timid mother and their grandfather who started his life in Italy.
The opening chapter takes us to the public library and Thomas has just performed self-mutilation: he has chopped off his hand in response to the Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield). And Dominick is there to rescue Thomas, as he's done their entire life. Thomas is taken to a psychiatric hospital for close observation, but in the mean time, Dominick ends up meeting with the psychiatrists, who help Dominick deal with issues he has with his brother, and soon a whole slew of issues comes rolling off of his tongue. It's an uphill battle, but through the help of the psychiatrists and his grandfather's journal, Dominick learns to deal with his anger and his frustrations over his life, and he comes to terms with a lot of things that he felt resentment over in the past.
There is not enough I can say about this book. It was quite the novel, with so much detail to the life stories of these people, covering three generations from Italy to America. Yet it all helped to tell Dominick's story. It surely was not a light read, but despite the huge volume, I was able to finish this book in less than two weeks. It is fast paced and there's never a dull moment. I'd say this is one of the best books selected by Oprah that I've read so far, and is part of my top 10 list of books read in 2002.