Three Truths and a Lie


Three Truths and a Lie

Three Truths and a Lie

Luke, a Korean adoptee, comes to an American family at age one and gradually loses his life’s way to die from addiction to crack cocaine at age 21. It is also a story of his adoptive father, a CIA officer who offers an unsparing and vivid account of his own efforts – wise, misguided, passionate, naive, creative, ultimately unsuccessful – to save his son.

Luke is warm, likeable, funny, quick to win friends – and a skilled deceiver able to impress others with a seeming maturity and urbanity. But the image he works to create for himself is increasingly belied by the darker realities of his life and the black hole he creates around his family.

Fuller writes of his poignant quest – through multiple family crises – to grasp the meaning of Luke’s life and death against a broad international backdrop from Afghanistan to Latin America.

In exploring the mysteries of adoption, identity, drug addiction and its impact on all the lives it touches, Fuller provides insights into this harsh reality that affects so many families – across all races, cultures and socio-economic strata –to ultimately make peace and find a state of grace beyond guilt and grief.

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People are talking:

“A compelling memoir of paternal love and anguish. As a father myself, I was seized with its unexpected brutal honesty and intensity that squeezes so much more out of the marrow of fatherhood. I’m having a hard time letting go of this book and what it teaches us about unsparing quest and love.”

-William Roberts, President, Whistler four for Leadership and Dialogue- Anglican priest

Haunting tale about a father’s love, hope and search for meaning

This is a story of unconditional parental love and unyielding hope even when all looks hopeless, but also about a quest for identity and search for meaning. Turning the pages, we feel the agony of a family as it becomes ever more collateral damage through its son Luke’s drug abuse. We root for the father’s desperate attempts to help Luke get out of the deadly maelstrom, we feel humbled by his unwavering commitment and optimism.

As the book’s jacket announces, Luke was adopted at age one from Korea. After reading that quick summary, it would be easy to conclude that the quest for identity is primarily concerned with the fact of adoption. Not so: Anyone who contemplates the often wildly differing personalities (identities?) of biological children or grandchildren should quickly be disabused of the notion that genetics equal predictability.

Fuller’s search for his son’s identity is not so much about Luke’s biological origin, but more about who he really was, and about how his life and destiny still resonate in others touched by them. In this he searches for meaning. He writes about the deeper dimensions he found within himself as a result of this quest and leaves the reader with the impression of having at last attained a degree of peace and closure.

It is a haunting ‘eye-witness’ account, beautifully written by a writer who has the skills to articulate his experiences and to give encouragement, perhaps even comfort, to others in similar circumstances.

4.0 out of 5 stars Great story about adoption, addiction and loss of a son

This is the story of the life and death of Luke Fuller, a Korean boy adopted by a white American family. Of his drug addiction and finally the death of this much beloved son. It is also the story of a family whose breadwinner is a CIA officer often stationed in the Middle and Far East, and how this means pulling up stakes and moving to other countries, as well as within the US. But mainily it’s about how far a father will go to try to find a way out of the morrass of the lies, deceit, and dysfunction of drug addiction to try to save his boy.

This is a very good read and I highy recommend it. It’s one of those books you can’t put down. I commend the writer for being willing to dig deep into himself and not make excuses for his own errors along the way.

Do yourself a favor and read Three Truths and a Lie. If it doesn’t exactly change your life, it may change your views about international adoption, a family member enmeshed in drugs, or the pain of a father’s tragic loss after desperately trying to save his son. This is a great story, well told.

5.0 out of 5 stars – Three Truths and a Lie is a good read and an exceptionally revealing memoire.

This father’s struggle echoes the archetypical struggle of Oedipus. The heroic effort to make-over the family changeling into a conventional success story (son the image of the father) ends in the death of a much loved son by cocaine overdose at age 21. Three Truths and a Lie is a compelling reenactment of the universal story of good intentions, blind struggle and anguished defeat.

Graham’s (dad) titanic struggle to keep Luke (his adopted son) out of the justice system is a provocative social commentary on the nature of the US/Western penal system.

Three Truths and a Lie invites allegorical interpretation. The ex-CIA father fails in his personal struggle, is analogous to Americas struggle to bring democracy and western values to resisting countries.

Dramatic perceptual shifts include discovering a different Luke through the letters of his friends, and, finding that one of Luke’s school principals isn’t what he appears to be. Intriguing glimpses of living abroad and considerable humor leaven the story. Still to come perhaps are the scenes of recognition, atonement, and redemption.


4.0 out of 5 stars – A father’s incredible struggle to save his son
This was a gut retching emotional ride. The villain, drugs, ADHD and maybe how Luke’s first two years of life really were before his adoption. Graham takes you through this journey of hope, disappointment, anger, frustration, self doubt, love and acceptance.

You find yourself liking the whole family and Luke. The trials and tribulations each one endures in their own way. It is truly an incredible story of a father’s unwavering love for his son. It shows the courage of a caring father and mother who never gave up on Luke or themselves. What a wonderful read. This one stays with you well after it’s been read!


4.0 out of 5 stars – Adoptive parents need to read this story

If this sounds like a painful book to read, try walking a mile in Fuller’s shoes. Adoption is not always an easy path to tread. We commit ourself, heart and soul, to a child who may not have the ability to return our love. Fuller tells his personal story with humility and with unconditional love for a son, whom he and his wife adopted. For me, the healing in this book is the feeling that I am not alone in a journey much like Fuller’s. His honesty and his gentle acceptance of reality, in his description of the struggle to do what is best for a child, resonates for adoptive parents who encounter the realities of a lonely journey. I admire this family and a son who carried his own bruises., I wish Fuller the peace he you so richly deserves. Rest in peace, Luke.


5.0 out of 5 stars – A powerful piece that redefines what it means to be a parent and a man
It was Spanish civil war poet Antonio Machado who wrote, “Pathmaker, there is no path, you make the path by walking.” Three Truths and a Lie is, at its heart, a story about path-making. It is a story about the courage it takes to venture off into the wild unknowns of adoptive parenting, and the astonishing resiliency of the human spirit. The author tells it with uncommon grit and humility, and redefines what it means to be a man, a parent, and a human being in one fell swoop. As a counselor who works with troubled youth on a daily basis, I highly recommend this as a guide-book for how to live and parent courageously.


5.0 out of 5 stars – Could Luke have been saved?
Graham Fuller’s book is a profoundly honest and direct story about the life and death of his son, Luke. It is also Graham’s story and that of his wife Prue. It is specific to one family, but the questions that arise are universal. For those of us who have had children with difficult lives, this book takes us on a heartbreaking journey, but we recognize the stops along the way. The right choices are not always clear. Solutions are elusive. We know that our children’s actions must have consequences, but some of those consequences are life-destroying. How much should we protect our children? Ultimately, can we? Does our love for our child distort our reality, our good sense? Do we really know our children: can we control them or any other human being other than ourselves? What to do when love is not enough.

What of the rest of the family and the time, emotional energy, and money that a family member on a downward spiral costs?

Luke was adopted as an infant from another country. Does that matter? What does it mean to Luke and to his parents to know nothing of his origins? Can nature overcome nuture?

And in the end when all is lost, can you find meaning in this life? Is it necessary for life to have meaning?

You will read this book and sympathize and criticize and agonize. You will be frustrated. But you will finish it fond of Luke and full of compassion for his family.

This is a very personal story but we can recognize ourselves in much of it. You have asked yourself many of the questions that Fuller asks. Perhaps you have an idea or insight. Do share it. This book begs for discussion.


5.0 out of 5 stars – An extraordinary tragic story of Father and Son relationship

“Three Truths and a Lie” is the story of the extraordinary eventful short life of an adopted son. It contains a moving description of drug addiction and its effect on its victims -the addict, his parents, siblings and friends. In telling his story in a very personal way, the author manages to transmit to the reader his strong emotions, his constantly reborn hopes and the terrible deceptions that followed. Strangely, for a story with such a tragic end, the tone is uplifting and the final chapter provides a convincing meaning for a short life that most of us would have considered “wasted”.

The story takes place in different countries whose cultures form the background and sometime the active catalysts for the events that are unfolding. The author’s sensitivity to the various cultural aspects of the tragedy – the son is Korean born – add to the interest of the book as the story unfold while moving from countries to countries. Without being explicitly religious or philosophical this book is immersed in a spirituality, a search for meaning that put it apart from just the chronicle of an addict’s life.


5.0 out of 5 stars – Tragedy and Grace

This is a damn fine book. Graham Fuller’s story about his adopted Korean son, Luke, Luke’s death from a crack overdose at age 21, and the coming to terms with that death by Graham, the Fuller family, and the many who knew and cared about Luke, resonates universally. Luke was a decent kid, very clearly from the narrative a kid with a kind and generous heart, but also a deeply troubled kid who got hooked on dangerous drugs. To be honest, I think Graham is a little to hard on himself: when things like this happen it isn’t fair to expect families to find all the answers. America desperately needs a modern system of health care that can take the time (a lot of time) to deal with addiction, personality disorder and mental illness. That minor critique aside, readers will find this book not just a tragedy but also an inspiration and a help in thinking through the meaning of their own lives. It’s an extremely readable book, written in an authentic, revealing personal voice, that asks just the right questions about the mysteries that surround us.

One person found this helpful

George D. Kenney

5.0 out of 5 stars – An amazing tribute to a friend who left us all too soon

I am one of Luke’s friends and have read Graham’s beautiful and moving tribute to him. When I read the book I was struck by the amount of love and, later in Luke’s life, desperate effort that Graham and his family made in trying to save Luke from his ultimately tragic end. Despite his flaws and drug induced wrongs, Luke was a kind soul who just could not find his way in the world. He enriched me for the far too brief time I knew him. He was funny, oddly wise, and was a breath of fresh air in my otherwise rigid and boring life.

I urge all of you who out there who are considering this book to read it. Not so much because of the lessons it imparts about the fragility of life and the fact that no matter how hard one tries to alter a tragic destiny that sometimes that desitny is unavoidable (although those are good reasons too), but because Luke was despite his flaws a wonderful person. All of us who knew him and cared about him felt that. Probably Luke would have never had a profound impact on the world had he lived, but the world is still a sadder place without him in it.

Anyhow read this book. You won’t regret it.


4.0 out of 5 stars – Tragic Destiny

Poignantly written telling the journey of a father and a son where drugs won in the end. Graham Fuller struggles to find the answers and fix the problem, but he is only human and Luke has his own destiny to follow. Sometimes the lessons of life are often told when it is over.


5.0 out of 5 stars – Three truths and a lie

I have just finished reading the book “Three truths and a lie”. I am touched by the deep humanity.

The book is a recording of a father’s struggle to save his son Luke from the evil drugs, but eventually lost the battle. The beginning (the Prologue) is sad and shocking. Reading into the book, it has been some nice family stories, with lifting spirits. While the stories changes between somewhat lighter and somewhat heavier, I can feel the roller coaster ride, and the despair to help.

Although cross culture adoption can add complexity to lives, what happened here could happen to any other non-adoption family.

Through the pages, I can feel the undoubted deep loving of a father to his son.

I am so saddened by the last few days of Luke’s life and the funeral process.

Despite of his short life, and all the pains the parents had gone through, I think, Luke had lived a very good and interesting life. He had more skills and experience than other 21 years old. I believe he knew he was lucky to be adopted to this family, just as the parents felt lucky to have him in their lives
2 people found this helpful

Scott A Murray

4.0 out of 5 stars – Three Truths and A Lie

Good personal memoir takes us on a journey. For my money, the best personal memoir takes us on an inner as well as an outer journey. When that journey is compelled by an author’s need to wrestle with his heart and soul, sign me up. Three Truths and a Lie is such a book.

A parent can never fully recover from the loss of a child. But they can grow in their humanity from such a loss, and sometimes become a resource for others. The author lost his adopted Korean son to–what? Drugs? Yes. But possibly to more. Or, sadly, to less. Did his son lack vital mental and emotional capacities? If so, why? Would his son have stood a better chance growing up in another society than American 20th century society? In another family? These agonizing questions of a grieving father are not solved by the book; they are struggled with. This makes the book alive.

Ultimately Three Truths and a Lie is about the limits of our ability to understand another person, and the worthwhileness of trying, especially when that person is our child. It’s about the anguish of a parent with a troubled child, and the limits of any system or institution to help some children or families–whether it be psychiatry, drug counseling, twelve step program, rehabilitation, the controlled environment of a specialized boarding school, or the spirit quest of an Outward Bound program, or removal to another culture. Luke dies when his life is careening into the arms of the law. The one untried system is prison.

We Americans aren’t terribly comfortable with tragedy; it isn’t part of our national narrative, though it is part of regional ones. We don’t like problems that cannot be solved by smarts, herculean effort, or religious faith. The story includes moments of happiness and closeness between Luke and his family. But the heart of the memoir is elsewhere.

It’s a tough thing for a parent to own harm done. Tougher still, maybe, to face a child’s growing destructiveness. The author goes there. Swerves away. Goes there again, exploring his limits, illusions, denial; pondering his obsession with his adopted son. Sometimes a parent’s obsessional love pays off. In trying to help Luke, the author and his family meet people they would never otherwise meet. Go places they would never otherwise go. But they can’t save Luke. Some readers might be tempted to think they would have had the answer for Luke’s life. If they don’t give in to that temptation they will, like Luke’s father, go to unfamiliar places. Or find comfort in knowing this father has been to places they know too well.


5.0 out of 5 stars – A sad tale that is also uplifting and helpful
Reading Graham Fuller’s book “Three Truths and a Lie” was a moving experience. It is an amazing story, that is very sad and very poignant, but at the same time somehow uplifting. It chronicles the enormous efforts that Mr. Fuller and his wife Prue made to try to help their son Luke through his traumatic experience with drugs, a trial that never seemed to end. When my wife and I read it we were filled with admiration for the herculean efforts these parents made to try to help their son. That the efforts failed in the end does not diminish the fact that they tried everything they could think of, out of love for Luke and deep empathy for his predicament.
Graham Fuller has been totally honest and self-critical but it is clear that he and his wife faced such a daunting task with persistence and determination that it is an inspiring tale. This book should be read by anyone who faces a similar challenge of trying to help a struggling family member. It should also be read by counselors who try to help families cope. Although it does not have a happy ending, it would, I think, be of great assistance to many.

Fuller’s writing is compelling and eloquent. His biography reveals that he has published on some very different subjects from this one. But in those cases he was an outsider, reporting and analyzing objectively, so it was easy for him to maintain some distance from the subject. In writing about Luke he has told an inside story and that must have been far more difficult. But he did it beautifully.

William A. Rugh

5.0 out of 5 starsHighly Recommended!

This book gives a heart-wrenching account of a father’s attempt to save his son from the downward spiral of drug addiction. Adopted at the age of one from Korea, Luke struggles with the interracial conflict of being neither here nor there. While his family moves frequently between locations in the United States and abroad, they spare no effort to make Luke feel comfortable as a member of the family. When his addiction troubles surface, they reach out to a variety of sources in an attempt to alter his behavior pattern. The book is well-written and deserves attention.


5.0 out of 5 stars – Three Truths and a Lie

This is a difficult story to read because it is so truly heart-wrenching. The author is writing about Luke, his adopted Korean son, who in his early teens developed a drug habit which he eventually supported by stealing from his parents and his friends, before dying of an over-dose at 21. But it is so well written, so compelling, that I read it straight through, all 250 pages, in one sitting.

The book was written some 15 years after his son had died, and while his father tries and ultimately succeeds, in making sense out of his son’s tragic life, and feeling blessed that the family had Luke for the time they did, the book takes us through his life from its early promise through the dark years. It was clearly incredibly painful to live through and experience his son’s downward spiral, trying to help, trying to remain optimistic despite the unfolding tragedy. And Luke was a wonderful kid — obviously a terrific personality, warm, outgoing — which only adds to the overall sense of ultimate loss. There’s an element of Greek tragedy here, of the growing inevitability of the outcome. And yet somehow, the writer, his father, is able to find a kind of strength, even wisdom, from the tragedy he lived through. It’s an unforgettable book.