Book Review – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Author – Laura

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Rosemary’s young, just at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we’re not going to tell you too much either: you’ll have to find out for yourselves what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. So now she’s telling her story; a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice. 

This is a beautiful book. But its really hard to review properly without revealing a clanger of a spoiler… So bear with me while I share what I can!

The book is narrated by Rosemary Cooke, who is the youngest child in a pretty unorthodox family. Her father is a scientist, who can’t always leave his work at home, and who believes that every negative event should teach a lesson, and her older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. The story follows the lives of Rosemary and her siblings, Lowell and Fern, their eventual disappearance from her life, and the shocking reasons why.

And that, my friends, is about all I can say about the plot!

I loved the writing style. When you first meet Rosemary the narration is really funny – the humour is so dry, and I laughed out loud at times. The further I got into the book the more odd I felt. Because the narrative is light, almost flippant, you don’t realise to start with that this book gets dark. Like, sitting in the corner of a black room with the lights off, dark. It creeps up on you until all of a sudden big fat tears are rolling down your cheeks and you get hiccups. The second half of the book is definitely slower paced than the first, but I defy you to make it to the end without at least a sniffle or two.

It’s hard to pinpoint why, and the feeling is vague, but I think my view of the world has shifted slightly after reading this.

A beautiful, heartbreaking read.

***** Five Stars

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