My interest in genealogy began in full after reading the book, “I Know This Much Is True” By Wally Lamb. The
book itself is not about genealogy. The book is about a man, Dominic, who while
dealing with the care and then suicide of his schizophrenic twin brother,
learns family secrets from a private autobiography his Italian grandfather wrote as a penance for his acts. The autobiography reveals dark family secrets about the
grandfather's life and traumas and the emotional abuse of Dominic's mother by the Grandfather. The overall story describes how this abuse and the grandfathers traumas echo's down the generation effecting effecting Dominic's mother and her children as well.
The story is tied together through many sub-plots that deal with such topics as the hardships early 20th century immigrants faced, family dynamics, growing up and the roles one plays in a family and how those roles and behaviors are transferred to other circumstances. The story is told through Dominic and individuals in his families' experience with, reaction too and accommodation of mental illness, physical illness, death and loss within the family. Dominic begins therapy for the sake of his brother but then continues it to deal with depression and effects of trauma in his own life.
While the ending maybe a little too happy, and the issues extreme, It demonstrates the fact that not only are genetic illnesses passed down, so to are emotional traumas and the effects can be more difficult to comprehend and untangle then physical illnesses. The book is a good illustration of the fact that we are not only a product of
genes, family dynamics and experiences we are also the products of the dynamics
and experiences of those who came before us.
book had me thinking about my own family dynamics, the experiences I had growing up and how my reaction, accomodation and adaptation to family dynamics played into and influenced other aspects of my life. I also started to think about my immigrant grandparents and the hardships they faced and the effects it had on my parents upbringing and ultimately on my own. It made me curious about some of the family stories
that had been passed down to me. I didn't know much about my father's
Lithuanian roots. I never knew either Lithuanian Grandparent. They both
emigrated to the US in the early 20th century. They both passed away before I
was born and by the time I started my research my own father had passed
away as well.