We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler: Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Overall Opinion: A good book about family life, growing up realising that a huge part of you is missing. And a gorilla.

“Skip the beginning, start in the middle.”

Synopsis: Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

It’s taken me a good couple of weeks since I finished reading this to actually get the time to write my review. And it seems that I’ve forgotten most of the detail of the book. So I guess that means it was forgettable, and didn’t stick with me afterwards, so I think this may be a bit of a shorter review than I would have liked. That’s disappointing, because I did actually enjoy it when I was reading it!

However, on the cover it says “one of the best twists in years”. I was expecting a massive dramatic plot twist. It didn’t happen. The story was beautiful though, and I loved how it started in the middle of the story, then you don’t find out the beginning (the most important part) until the end. It made it interesting to follow, and meant that I was hooked after the first chapter, it didn’t take long for something to actually happen like with other books where you read half of it and there has been no development in the story. Good.

Another thing about this book is that it uses complex language. As in really complex. Words I’ve never in my life come across before, and probably wouldn’t have done unless I was studying psychology… Although this did mean that it took a while longer to read, I did learn a lot of new and interesting words that I’ll probably never use in everyday conversation, such as “catachresis” – the incorrect use of a word. Ironic.

There is also A LOT of philosophy and psychology woven into this book, and real studies, all referenced in the back of the book as recommended further reading. I personally won’t read it, but I suppose that’s nice for someone who really wanted to?

Would I recommend it? Yes. It was a beautiful story of growing up after losing a sibling, and how that affects life from there on, not only for yourself, but for your family too.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was a book that made me misty eyed, right at the very end… Family. Happy ending. Bound to happen wasn’t it..?


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