Synopsis: Domenick Birdsey is having a rough life... he grew up protecting his twin brother Thomas from an abusive step-father,
and from the rest of the cruel world. Now, as an adult, Dominick is still trying to protect Thomas after a paranoid schizophrenic episode in which he has cut off his hand and been placed in
a maximum security mental institution. As he tries to deal with his brother's problems, his own problems encroach upon him to the point where he can no longer
cope and he begins counsel with his brother's doctor... and also begins a journey of self-discovery and acceptance.
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Book Venue's Reader Reviews:
This is a big book, and I found my feelings about it changing throughout the story.
In the end, I found it to be a powerful and touching narrative. The story centers around Domenique Birdsey, who has an identical twim named
Thomas. The book opens when the adult Thomas, who is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, decides to cut off his own hand in a form of anti-war
protest. Domenique has fallen into the role of "protector" for his brother, and he now faces the aftermath of his brother's actions. While trying to
keep his brother from being committed to a maximum security mental institution, he is also coping with his own personal problems, including the resentment, anger, and fear
associated with his brother's plight.
This story was an easy one to start reading, but as it progressed I began to grow weary of it. Domenique
recounts various dismal memories of his childhood and adolescence, mingled with his current problems. His reactions to his problems only make
matters worse, to the point where I began to get frustrated with him. At one point, I began not wanting to pick the book up again. It was just too depressing.
Curiously enough, it was at about this point when Domenique was also contemplating escape. So, I suppose this could be a testament to the strength of the writing.
My interest in the story was renewed when Domenique begins reading his grandfather's manuscript. This
provided a little relief from his problems, and yet still tied in to the story. The end of the book almost seemed a little too "happy" and pat, yet I was
surprised to find myself actually getting a little teary-eyed while I was reading it!
This book is very good. It is a thick book, but holds your
interest from beginning to end. There is a secret about the brothers that comes
to light which changes their lives forever.
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Further Reading Suggestions:
She's Come Undone
- also by Wally Lamb,
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