We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

August 19, 2015 | Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Completely Beside Ourselves Cover

About a week ago, I finished reading, ‘We are all Completely Beside Ourselves’by Karen Joy Fowler. This is a story about the Cookes, a quirky family of five. Rosemary, one of the daughters, is at University and retelling the tale. There are a few mysteries to keep you reading. Where is Rosemary’s older brother and why did he run away? Where was Fern, her sister? Why was she sent away?

Finding an answer to one of these questions shoots the story in an unpredictable and exciting direction. It was impossible for me to read and not feel big swings in emotion, or to question the humanity of humanity. This is a deep and touching book and the kind that will make you think long after you are finished.

The book does jump around in time, so be prepared for the story to ‘start in the middle’ as the main character professes. I don’t mind a bit of jumping around, but I found this a bit annoying and I’m not sure it gained much for the storytelling. The story is very strong and didn’t need a complicated structure. There are also times when the research and statistics are presented that seems like a research paper and not a novel.

Nevertheless, in the end, all I really cared about was if Rosemary would ever see her sister Fern again. And you will have to read the book to find out!

4 stars – see if you don’t cry…

© 2015 Melissa Sargent