I finished Wally Lamb's 897-page tome, I Know This Much is True, two days ago. And with it completed the TBR Pile Challenge for 2015, leaving unread two of the 14 books on my list, but they're going on some list for 2016 anyway!
I really had no expectations about I Know This Much is True going into it, only that many bloggers whose taste I trust liked it a lot. It was a rough book at times, but always compelling, and always true and not contrived. I found the characters interesting, their stories heartbreaking, and their resilience inspiring. I thought Lamb did a masterful job in developing themes that spanned the various stories, with leitmotifs that connected the different parts together into a coherent whole.
For those of you who don't know the basic outline of the story that Lamb tells in I Know This Much is True, I think this paragraph near the end, in which Dr. Patel, the psychiatrist who helps Dominick, the main character out of the dark forest of his past, describes Dominick's story...
This is the story of Dominick, and in many ways, it is also the story of America. It is a story of race relations, of domination and survival, of the evil of social Darwinism and tribal warfare. But it is also a story of compassion and love and friendship and family. I really loved how Lamb allowed each of his characters to be able to tell, in some fashion, his or her story that explained why or how they came to be as they are. Some people gave in to the dark side more easily than others, but the narrator's compassion helped make some of the really rough stuff more bearable.
And the ending is pure joy. If you haven't read this book and decide to, don't give up on it midway through. This is a book where the ending rewards the reader for sticking with it.
Definitely one of the best books I read in 2015.