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

by - Monday, February 16, 2015

Title: We Are All Competely Beside Ourselves
Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Pages: 310
Format: Hardcover
Source: Received Turkish copy from TR publisher


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.
My thoughts:

I'm not quite sure how I can review this one without giving away the biggest secret of the book. However, I can say that the stars of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, the Cooke family are a regular, classic family in some sense. On the other hand, they are competely different and extraordinary. The book itself is funny, serious and rather sad.

The protagonist Rosemary used to be a girl who talked too much. Her family, in order to have her talk less, used to tell her to start her stories from the middle. She does listen to this advice in We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and does start her story from the middle. Her sister has somehow disappeared. The family has no idea where her brother is. The FBI is after him. Her mother is physically there, but completely gone mentally and emotionally. Her father, on the other hand, is emotionally drained and has given himself to alcohol. When we meet Rosemary, this is the case, and she herself is a girl who has run away to get away from it all.

Like I've previously mentioned, the story starts from the middle, going back and forth between the beginning and the end. It is rather impossible to give you an idea of the plot without giving away too much, so here's what We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves makes you feel and think:
  • Being different, being able to love what's different from you, being able to get jealous of them while doing so, missing them when they're not near
  • How far us humans can go in the name of science and whether or not we regret it at times
  • Whether or not talking too much is a good or a bad thing
  • How people who keep everything bottles inside eventually explode
  • Whether or not a family continues to be a family if one member is missing
  • Whether or not there are parents who love one of their kids more than the other(s)
  • How people can feel whole when someone they've known all their lives is not there anymore.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves has the potential to make you cry your eyes out while reading. Consider yourselves warned.

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