We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Book Review

WeAreAllCompletelyIn 1996, ten years had passed since I’d last seen my brother, seventeen since my sister disappeared. The middle of my story is all about their absence, though if I hadn’t told you that, you might not have known. By 1996, whole days went by in which I hardly thought about either one. – from We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves –

The definition of family has changed and evolved through the years, and Karen Joy Fowler’s latest novel puts an extra twist on that definition.

Rosemary Cooke, now a young adult, narrates the story of her life – beginning in the middle and then spiraling back to the year she was six when her family was changed forever. The novel moves back and forth from the present to flashbacks of Rosemary’s past as she reveals her unique family – including a brother who has been absent for a long time, and her sister, Fern, who was removed from the family.

Exploring such themes as post-traumatic stress, memory, family connectedness and the “sameness” between living beings, Fowler takes the traditional family saga and turns it on its head.

There have been a lot of spoilers for this book (which in my opinion wrecks its impact), but you won’t read them here. What I will tell you is that some of the subject matter will be disturbing for some readers (it was for me).

Haunting, poignant and original, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a novel which will appeal to readers who enjoy literary fiction and family dramas.


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  1. This was such an emotional read. I actually did have it spoiled for me – damn Goodreads! But I went ahead and read it, even though it was a subject matter far removed from my experience. I am so glad I did; it was excellent.

    • Kailana on February 11, 2015 at 04:49

    Spoilers are why I skim reviews and often just skip to the bottom to see if the person liked it or not. I hate spoilers!

    • Heather on February 14, 2015 at 05:07

    I was lucky enough to avoid spoilers but I totally agree with you that they would ruin the experience of the novel. Although the subject matter was difficult (and it was disturbing for me too), I absolutely loved this novel and it was one of my favorites from last year’s reading.

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