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Tell Me Who I Am

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A true story of false memory and lost innocence in one of England's most respectable families Imagine waking up one day to discover that you have forgotten everything about your life. Your only link with the past, your only hope for the future, is your identical twin. Now imagine, years later, discovering that your twin had not told you the whole truth about your childhood, A true story of false memory and lost innocence in one of England's most respectable families Imagine waking up one day to discover that you have forgotten everything about your life. Your only link with the past, your only hope for the future, is your identical twin. Now imagine, years later, discovering that your twin had not told you the whole truth about your childhood, your family, and the forces that had shaped you. Why the secrets? Why the silences? You have no choice but to begin again. This has been Alex's reality: a world where memories are just the stories people tell you, where fact and fiction are impossible to distinguish. With dogged courage he has spent years hunting for the truth about his hidden past and his remarkable family. His quest to understand his true identity has revealed shocking betrayals and a secret tragedy, extraordinary triumph over crippling adversity and, above all, redemption founded on brotherly love. Marcus his twin brother has sometimes been a reluctant companion on this journey, but for him too it has led to staggering revelations and ultimately the shedding of impossible burdens. Their story spans continents and eras, from 1950s debutantes and high society in the Home Counties to a remote island in the Pacific and 90s raves. Disturbing, funny, heart-breaking and affirming, Alex and Marcus's determination to rebuild their lives makes us look afresh at how we choose to tell our stories.


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A true story of false memory and lost innocence in one of England's most respectable families Imagine waking up one day to discover that you have forgotten everything about your life. Your only link with the past, your only hope for the future, is your identical twin. Now imagine, years later, discovering that your twin had not told you the whole truth about your childhood, A true story of false memory and lost innocence in one of England's most respectable families Imagine waking up one day to discover that you have forgotten everything about your life. Your only link with the past, your only hope for the future, is your identical twin. Now imagine, years later, discovering that your twin had not told you the whole truth about your childhood, your family, and the forces that had shaped you. Why the secrets? Why the silences? You have no choice but to begin again. This has been Alex's reality: a world where memories are just the stories people tell you, where fact and fiction are impossible to distinguish. With dogged courage he has spent years hunting for the truth about his hidden past and his remarkable family. His quest to understand his true identity has revealed shocking betrayals and a secret tragedy, extraordinary triumph over crippling adversity and, above all, redemption founded on brotherly love. Marcus his twin brother has sometimes been a reluctant companion on this journey, but for him too it has led to staggering revelations and ultimately the shedding of impossible burdens. Their story spans continents and eras, from 1950s debutantes and high society in the Home Counties to a remote island in the Pacific and 90s raves. Disturbing, funny, heart-breaking and affirming, Alex and Marcus's determination to rebuild their lives makes us look afresh at how we choose to tell our stories.

30 review for Tell Me Who I Am

  1. 5 out of 5

    Claire- Louise

    I watched the Netflix documentary which, I have to say, was incredible. Afterwards, I simply could not forget this story and ‘Marky and Ally’ (as they affectionately call each other.) They came across as the nicest and most normal blokes who told their difficult story with courage and honesty. I found the book even more riveting and I’m so glad I picked it up as it delves under the surface and paints the whole picture of their lives and also that of their siblings. I felt it managed to tap into I watched the Netflix documentary which, I have to say, was incredible. Afterwards, I simply could not forget this story and ‘Marky and Ally’ (as they affectionately call each other.) They came across as the nicest and most normal blokes who told their difficult story with courage and honesty. I found the book even more riveting and I’m so glad I picked it up as it delves under the surface and paints the whole picture of their lives and also that of their siblings. I felt it managed to tap into the complexities of abuse and family dysfunction in which denial, falsehood and secrecy are the key components. But mostly this book feels like two people making sense of an unspeakable thing. 5 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nikmaack

    The book is very oddly written. Something about the style felt almost child-like and overly simple. There's tons of telling instead of showing. The third part of the book borders on the unreadable -- an almost verbatim transcript of conversations that add very little to the overall story. The story itself is pretty incredible. Hearing details of it on a podcast is what drew me to the book. And yet... It is a dangerous place to be, saying you are sceptical of someone else's recovered memories of se The book is very oddly written. Something about the style felt almost child-like and overly simple. There's tons of telling instead of showing. The third part of the book borders on the unreadable -- an almost verbatim transcript of conversations that add very little to the overall story. The story itself is pretty incredible. Hearing details of it on a podcast is what drew me to the book. And yet... It is a dangerous place to be, saying you are sceptical of someone else's recovered memories of sexual abuse. So I hesitate to say this, but I found myself wondering -- could this book be a lie? Could huge portions of the tale be misremembering? Strangely, the book itself seems to suggest that possibility -- the version of events the twins tell, about the accident, is, suddenly, remembered in a new way. If memories are that malleable, how are we to take the rest of the book? There is no medicine or science in the book at all. While I don't want pictures of the MRI scans, a total absence of medical experts on memory and brain injury seems suspicious. And there's also this weird whitewash feeling to the book. It's as though the author, collaborating with the twins, created a document that they want to call reality. Even with it being a little messy, it somehow feels too tidy. I am also always suspicious of books of journalism where the author is absent from the text. How can I sum it up? Parts 1 & 2 are great, part 3 is boring, the whole thing is very oddly written, but it was a fascinating read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alice (Married To Books)

    T/W- Sexual Abuse Tell Me Who I Am is the devastating true story of twins Alex and Marcus, who grow up into a tough family upbringing and then one of them having a nasty accident come of age. Alex since the accident has lost all of his memories, but Marcus can't bring himself to reveal some shocking truths about their experiences to Alex. Living lies, travelling abroad and having to come to rebuild lives after loss, this was a harrowing read that proved to be far more unsettling than I had antici T/W- Sexual Abuse Tell Me Who I Am is the devastating true story of twins Alex and Marcus, who grow up into a tough family upbringing and then one of them having a nasty accident come of age. Alex since the accident has lost all of his memories, but Marcus can't bring himself to reveal some shocking truths about their experiences to Alex. Living lies, travelling abroad and having to come to rebuild lives after loss, this was a harrowing read that proved to be far more unsettling than I had anticipated. While I do like reading memoirs, the pacing was very disjointed throughout. There was something that didn't sit well with me, but I do put that down to the overall tone of the book. It's never easy to speak out about heavy issues such as abuse. 3 stars was my final decision after spending a few weeks thinking about this review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beth (bibliobeth)

    This story is about a family, in particular twin boys, who are raised in a well-to-do family in England filled with joy and laughter on the outside, but on the inside it is a very different story. There are horrific secrets of sexual and emotional abuse carried out against the male children of the family (the twins and their younger brother Oliver), mainly perpetuated by their mother. What makes this terrible abuse story different however, is that one of the twins, Alex, cannot remember it occur This story is about a family, in particular twin boys, who are raised in a well-to-do family in England filled with joy and laughter on the outside, but on the inside it is a very different story. There are horrific secrets of sexual and emotional abuse carried out against the male children of the family (the twins and their younger brother Oliver), mainly perpetuated by their mother. What makes this terrible abuse story different however, is that one of the twins, Alex, cannot remember it occurring due to a motorcycle accident which happened when he was eighteen, and led to the loss of all his memories prior to the event save one, he is able to remember his twin Marcus. On seeing his mother at his hospital bedside, he cannot recollect her at all, and sees her as just a “hysterical woman” whose noise-making is slightly irritating and too much for his fragile brain to take at the time of awakening from a coma. Alex now has to re-build his life, relying heavily on his twin to fill in the gaps in his memory and to teach him about what kind of person he is. There is a twist to this tale. Marcus decides not to tell Alex about the abuse that they suffered at the hands of their mother that Alex clearly has no memory of. Right or wrong, Marcus wants to spare his twin that trauma, and in a way, he has blocked it out himself so that he can continue with his life. When their mother dies however, Alex begins to question a few things, namely the lack of grief experienced by his siblings and begins to wonder what they are hiding. Obviously, this is a very sinister and emotive story, and reading about sexual abuse is never going to be pleasant. What I did find inspiring is that this is not just a book about abuse, the author takes great pains to show us the wonderful things that have happened in the twins’ lives, for example their travelling, their “work hard” attitude, and their business ventures. This shows us that while others may have admitted defeat after their experiences, they refuse to be labelled as victims. I have to say, I wasn’t entirely sure about their idea for building a hotel on a deserted African island, but the fact that they go back and try to assist the local village financially, or in building a school surely has to be respected. The only thing I had a slight issue with is that the writing style at times seems slightly sensationalist, with an unnecessary cliffhanger at the end of every chapter. This is only my opinion though, and I’m sure others may enjoy this method, it just didn’t sit right for me. Please see my full review at http://www.bibliobeth.wordpress.com

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian

    Saw the brilliant but harrowing Netflix documentary over the weekend, so I'm curious about the book. According to Marcus, he withheld a lot of information in the book, only feeling comfortable to discuss the details and the magnitude of what happened to them in the documentary. I was a little disappointed by the documentary, however - I was hoping that they'd explore the ethical dilemma in greater detail, and hopefully touch upon the philosophical questions surrounding memory as identity. The ver Saw the brilliant but harrowing Netflix documentary over the weekend, so I'm curious about the book. According to Marcus, he withheld a lot of information in the book, only feeling comfortable to discuss the details and the magnitude of what happened to them in the documentary. I was a little disappointed by the documentary, however - I was hoping that they'd explore the ethical dilemma in greater detail, and hopefully touch upon the philosophical questions surrounding memory as identity. The very concept is so Dickian, it could easily be an episode of Black Mirror, or even a series by itself. Take nothing away from the documentary, though- it was brilliant.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I've just finished this book and found it fascinating and gripping. These twin brothers and their siblings really have built amazing lives after such a difficult start. I learnt so much reading this book, about the struggle of learning to live again, struggling with dyslexia and what people will do to protect the ones they love. Everyone should read this book. I'm so glad I got the chance to read this book...thank you. I've just finished this book and found it fascinating and gripping. These twin brothers and their siblings really have built amazing lives after such a difficult start. I learnt so much reading this book, about the struggle of learning to live again, struggling with dyslexia and what people will do to protect the ones they love. Everyone should read this book. I'm so glad I got the chance to read this book...thank you.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Cunningham

    I recently watched the documentary based on Alex and Marcus’ story and was fascinated by it. I looked forward to learning more about their background, which this book does provide. However, it is not at all well written, and the final section is confusing and pointless. But their story and courage in telling it is amazing and worth reading about. I highly recommend the documentary on Netflix, watch that first!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sara Brown

    I liked how this book was written. I had seen the documentary and was interested to read the book. The documentary covers the twins and Alex's need for the truth, however the book goes into far more detail about how their lives have been impacted by their parents, and that they have other siblings too. It's a difficult subject matter but as they don't go into details of the abuse, I never felt so horrified that I needed to stop reading. I liked how this book was written. I had seen the documentary and was interested to read the book. The documentary covers the twins and Alex's need for the truth, however the book goes into far more detail about how their lives have been impacted by their parents, and that they have other siblings too. It's a difficult subject matter but as they don't go into details of the abuse, I never felt so horrified that I needed to stop reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This book is not very well written. So bad in fact, I just can't finish it. I got halfway through before the quality started waning even further which is a shame because that's when it was supposed to start getting good. I highly recommend the Netflix documentary though. Skip the book. This book is not very well written. So bad in fact, I just can't finish it. I got halfway through before the quality started waning even further which is a shame because that's when it was supposed to start getting good. I highly recommend the Netflix documentary though. Skip the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marina

    ** Books 26 - 2019 ** This books to accomplish Tsundoku Books Challenge 2019 3,4 of 5 stars! 6th of 16th Books that i bought from Big Bad Wolf Jakarta 2019 is finally finished read! yayy! I'm curious about the story since it is memoir of twins brothers Alex and Marcus Lewis about.. When Alex was eighteen years old he got car accident that erased all of his eighteen years old memories and he just knew his twins, Marcus only.. It is really hurts me with they also have difficulties of reading and wri ** Books 26 - 2019 ** This books to accomplish Tsundoku Books Challenge 2019 3,4 of 5 stars! 6th of 16th Books that i bought from Big Bad Wolf Jakarta 2019 is finally finished read! yayy! I'm curious about the story since it is memoir of twins brothers Alex and Marcus Lewis about.. When Alex was eighteen years old he got car accident that erased all of his eighteen years old memories and he just knew his twins, Marcus only.. It is really hurts me with they also have difficulties of reading and writing since both of them have complicated dyslexia.. The most unforgivable one when i read about their F****** Mother, Jill did something horrible to them! Even the chilhood memories of Jill being written in almost a few chapters in this books i am still wondering how can such a mother did such thing to her own son? In the end i'm also touched when finally both of Marcus and Ali found their everlasting wife (Vito and Camilla). They deserve to get better life! I hope even Oliver , their younger brother can through this traumatic events! Thankyou Bigbadwolf 2019!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Gunn

    After watching the Netflix documentary that followed the book I absolutely had to buy and read it and I’m so glad I did. As always, the book tells it best. The book begins keeping details to a minimum and giving a background of the boys’ lives and continues to give more insight as you move through the book and I found myself feeling like part of the family being told the story in person. Tell Me Who I Am is heartbreaking and harrowing but has to be read. It causes controversy in that I found tha After watching the Netflix documentary that followed the book I absolutely had to buy and read it and I’m so glad I did. As always, the book tells it best. The book begins keeping details to a minimum and giving a background of the boys’ lives and continues to give more insight as you move through the book and I found myself feeling like part of the family being told the story in person. Tell Me Who I Am is heartbreaking and harrowing but has to be read. It causes controversy in that I found that I was arguing with myself about decisions characters had made and had to keep reminding myself that Alex and Marcus’ story was a true one and although it’s mostly always hidden, the horrors they faced are all too common. I adored the book and how brutally honest it was throughout. I’d highly recommend but have a box of tissues nearby.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maruca

    Re-watched the documentary and decided to listen to the book too. It seems the documentary‘s big reveal already happened before the film, in the book. So I’m not sure if the documentary was a dramatisation... it’s a bit confusing. The hooked dragged on and the last third with all siblings remembering things was an almost blow-to-blow account that dragged on unnecessarily. Pity. It’s a harrowing, moving story. But it could have been told better... I liked the narration of the audiobook though... The Re-watched the documentary and decided to listen to the book too. It seems the documentary‘s big reveal already happened before the film, in the book. So I’m not sure if the documentary was a dramatisation... it’s a bit confusing. The hooked dragged on and the last third with all siblings remembering things was an almost blow-to-blow account that dragged on unnecessarily. Pity. It’s a harrowing, moving story. But it could have been told better... I liked the narration of the audiobook though... The documentary is more moving though.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gayle

    I came across this autobiography after seeing the twins on breakfast television and so decided I would give it ago. Well, it was certainly one of those books you can't put down (I read it in 36 hours) even though the subject matter is very serious. It probably shows the character of the twin brothers that abuse and trauma can be related in a way that you want to read more and certainly not in a sensationalist way. Definitely one to be recommended. I came across this autobiography after seeing the twins on breakfast television and so decided I would give it ago. Well, it was certainly one of those books you can't put down (I read it in 36 hours) even though the subject matter is very serious. It probably shows the character of the twin brothers that abuse and trauma can be related in a way that you want to read more and certainly not in a sensationalist way. Definitely one to be recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie Cohen

    This kind of book is just not my cup of tea. While the story is somewhat interesting, I just don't like the style of writing. Repetitive and mundane, turning what is a disturbing story into a book I was just reading to get through. Disappointing. This kind of book is just not my cup of tea. While the story is somewhat interesting, I just don't like the style of writing. Repetitive and mundane, turning what is a disturbing story into a book I was just reading to get through. Disappointing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mebsie

    Interesting on so many levels: twins, dyslexia, abuse, brain injury, family dynamics. Written in a non sensationalistic style which I appreciated hugely. A generous insight into many different issues.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathi

    This is a very good read. I saw the documentary and decided to read the book. It is interesting to see how one man lost his memories of the past and one suppressed them. Very sad that no one reported this obvious abuse when the children were young.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tomiko

    Repetition made it dull at the end

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bridgit

    I find the book very moving, and rightfully written. The sensitivity of the entire story is well kept and although on many occassion i wished the author did exposed the identities of the abuser, i still find it justly so to keep it at bare minimum. It is not easy and will never be easy to discuss in details the trauma and the dark experiences that Alex, Marcus and Oliver had. And i appreciate the idea that the lack of too much details were compensated with the emotions of each chapter. I am feel I find the book very moving, and rightfully written. The sensitivity of the entire story is well kept and although on many occassion i wished the author did exposed the identities of the abuser, i still find it justly so to keep it at bare minimum. It is not easy and will never be easy to discuss in details the trauma and the dark experiences that Alex, Marcus and Oliver had. And i appreciate the idea that the lack of too much details were compensated with the emotions of each chapter. I am feeling proud and happy to know that they have come out very successful in their lives despite the challenges they have. After reading the book, i am left to dream of being able to visit and stay in Fundu resort someday to share and experience the patch of paradise that helped them heal and provided refuge during their dark harrowing days...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lesley Potts

    Marcus and Alex arrived via my radio, on the BBC World Service, in the wee hours of a Saturday morning. They were utterly charming and the snippets of their story I caught in my drowsy state intrigued me. They were promoting their new Netflix documentary, also called “Tell Me Who I Am”. I downloaded the book the next day, and I also watched the documentary, but I’m not really sure what to tell you. The book, which was written with help from a ghost writer because both men are dyslexic, explores Marcus and Alex arrived via my radio, on the BBC World Service, in the wee hours of a Saturday morning. They were utterly charming and the snippets of their story I caught in my drowsy state intrigued me. They were promoting their new Netflix documentary, also called “Tell Me Who I Am”. I downloaded the book the next day, and I also watched the documentary, but I’m not really sure what to tell you. The book, which was written with help from a ghost writer because both men are dyslexic, explores several themes: being an identical twin, trust, memory, the effects of sexual abuse, and the secrets we all keep from each other. It also questions what it is that makes a person’s identity and how we manipulate others. Their story weaves a tangled web that left me with many unanswered questions.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Having watched the excellent Netflix documentary by the same name, I was intrigued to read where it all started. This book reads almost like a long interview with the twins, which was interesting in some respects. The twins story touches on some harrowing subjects, but that is only part of their history. They have lead fascinating and complicated lives, full of travels and adventures. Some parts of the book felt repetitive and the writer uses a lot of the same analogies, but overall I did enjoy Having watched the excellent Netflix documentary by the same name, I was intrigued to read where it all started. This book reads almost like a long interview with the twins, which was interesting in some respects. The twins story touches on some harrowing subjects, but that is only part of their history. They have lead fascinating and complicated lives, full of travels and adventures. Some parts of the book felt repetitive and the writer uses a lot of the same analogies, but overall I did enjoy the book and thought the twins’ story is well deserved to be shared.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    Alex and Marcus, the key characters in this true story, are dear friends of mine. I worked for them as their marketing manager for their property in Tanzania, Fundu Lagoon. Such a gorgeous pair, their story is truly harrowing but also shows strength and power which will leave you humbled. Not for the faint hearted, but rewarding all the same. Recommend watching the Netflix docu-film once you have read the book - Marcus and Alex both feature in it and all income from the film was donated to a chi Alex and Marcus, the key characters in this true story, are dear friends of mine. I worked for them as their marketing manager for their property in Tanzania, Fundu Lagoon. Such a gorgeous pair, their story is truly harrowing but also shows strength and power which will leave you humbled. Not for the faint hearted, but rewarding all the same. Recommend watching the Netflix docu-film once you have read the book - Marcus and Alex both feature in it and all income from the film was donated to a child abuse charity.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction and much more disturbing. There are many horror stories that I find less disturbing than what happened to this man and his siblings. At first, I disliked how the story was being told. Certain situations were glossed over or made to seem almost unimportant. My frustration grew as I listened further, but then everything started to make sense. This story has many, many layers and you have to understand each layer before you dig down to the rotten core.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    The true story of identical twins Alex and Marcus exploits of travelling, job experiences, relationships as adults, friends, having a business together and then also building a hotel together is fascinating all on its own. Throw in the amnesias which wiped Alex’s childhood away and their reliance on each other takes on a new meaning. The secrecy and abuse suffered as children slowly being revealed and its effects on their bond as brothers is harrowing and shows how their very different perspectiv The true story of identical twins Alex and Marcus exploits of travelling, job experiences, relationships as adults, friends, having a business together and then also building a hotel together is fascinating all on its own. Throw in the amnesias which wiped Alex’s childhood away and their reliance on each other takes on a new meaning. The secrecy and abuse suffered as children slowly being revealed and its effects on their bond as brothers is harrowing and shows how their very different perspectives allowed them to cope with the trauma. It doesn’t read like fact, more like and elaborately woven story of characters and circumstances all plucked from different genre to create a thrilling tale of overcoming the worst things imaginable and still being a productive adult. I liked the narration but some of the female voice where a little grating.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Snar

    I read this book after seeing their documentary on Netflix. The book is very well written, but story so sad. This entire family suffered so much. Living thru the betrayal of their mother's unthinkable abuse and carrying that with them all their lives must be horrible. I felt horrible that the abuse put such a strain on the twin's relationship after Alex's accident. They are all really lucky to have each other and glad to see they persevered. I read this book after seeing their documentary on Netflix. The book is very well written, but story so sad. This entire family suffered so much. Living thru the betrayal of their mother's unthinkable abuse and carrying that with them all their lives must be horrible. I felt horrible that the abuse put such a strain on the twin's relationship after Alex's accident. They are all really lucky to have each other and glad to see they persevered.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Fascinating story but too dragged out, disjointed and repetitive. Identical twins were raised in a wealthy but cold and difficult home and sexually abused by their mom who also pimped them out. Twin Alex is in motorcycle accident at age 18 and loses his memory of everything except twin Marcus. Marcus decides to spare his bro of the pain as shame of the abuse and chooses not to tell him. But Alex finds out and feels betrayed.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Schibley

    Watched the documentary of the same name and decided I wanted to know more about this story of twin brothers, one of which loses his memory in a motorcycle accident at the age of 18 and relies on his brother to tell him the story of his life but leaves out some very important parts which he must find out for himself. Not the greatest writing but they get their story across. Touching.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    Not sure about this book, but I read it for bookclub and it got mixed reviews. Interesting for the question of memory, a favourite of mine. The child abuse was troubling. I wasn't impressed by the writing; I found it repetitive and poorly edited. Too many cooks? I watched the Netflix movie first and was more impressed by the story in that form - not usual for me. Not sure about this book, but I read it for bookclub and it got mixed reviews. Interesting for the question of memory, a favourite of mine. The child abuse was troubling. I wasn't impressed by the writing; I found it repetitive and poorly edited. Too many cooks? I watched the Netflix movie first and was more impressed by the story in that form - not usual for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    When I read there was a documentary coming out on Netflix, I wanted to read the source material to find out what the big secret was. While the story is certainly compelling, the writing was a bit subpar.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karrington Knight

    I found out there was a book after watching the Netflix docu-series. I really enjoyed how we were able to understand the stories of not just Marcus and Alex, but also their siblings, Oliver and Amanda! Very powerful book!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Interesting perspective on memory suppression This book teaches us that every gain commands personal sacrifice and you have no way of predicting or dictating that price.

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