This is an intensive journey down the emotional conduit that exists between twins. Here, Dominic and Thomas, the brothers Birdsey, attempt to tread the terrible waters in which mental illness, hopelessness, self-doubt and despair threaten to drown them. Dominic, ostensibly the stronger brother, is the one relegated to caring for sibling Thomas, the boy afflicted with schizophrenia. Dom must hold not only his own life together but must look out for his afflicted twin, watch over him at school, and make sure he comes to no harm.
Twins have always been a fascinating concept, and here author Lamb dissects that connection with wit and and understanding and extraordinary emotion. The book's opening line is a riveting theme of what lies beyond: "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."
Dominic tells us this; he is the one, as we'll learn, who is truly affected by his brother's actions, moreso than Thomas himself. Here, the fragile boy will cut off his own hand, an offering to the voice he hears in his head, a voice that will ultimately lead him to taking his own life. In the meantime, Dom's life is unravelling, his marriage falling apart and his mother succumbing to catastrophic cancer.
This is a book weighted heavily with the travails and dangers of love, of family, of friendship. It reveals strengths and weaknesses, the delicate filigree that brings us all together and ultimately gives us our own character. Lamb is a master, a teller of dark tales, but more importantly, a speaker of the truth. His nine-hundred page narrative reads like a short story and will make you cry and snarl and blush with the wonder in the world.