We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Rosemary Cooke's childhood was an experiment her scientist parents were conducting. She didn't know that till much later.

A sister she was close to disappeared when Rosemary was five years old and was never spoken of again; an older brother left home shortly thereafter and wasn't seen for ten long years. These losses left her mother deeply depressed, her father drinking too much, and Rosemary struggling with loneliness and guilt over her part in the disappearances, guilt that would affect every subsequent relationship in her life.

I've made it sound like a mystery, but it isn't really. It's about the confusing and complicated relationships of families, asking us to think about what and who a family is. The writing reveals emotional depths in its characters without sentimentality, a relief after some of the overly-dramatic Christmas reading I tried. This one feels authentic and the characters credible, drawing you so into the story that you forget you're reading a story and find yourself simply living in it. 

There's much more to it that than my brief summary tells you but I don't want to reveal anything that might take away from your reading experience. There's a twist early on that changes everthing and takes you on a journey you might not have been expecting. And there's a lot to think about on this journey, a lot to learn. It's not a story I particularly liked but it is important and memorable and I'm glad I read it and had to consider some of the questions it raises. 

This one is well worth reading.   


Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

I read this one a while back and loved it, for all its craziness. Nothing like what I expected!

Ordinary Reader said...

It was unusal, for sure. That's what made it so interesting.

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