Week 4 of my 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge is up, and it’s time to review one of the most lovely and surprising books I’ve ever read. It’s a book that has a secret, and even when you find out that secret, you’re not 100% sure you wish you had.
This week’s book is…
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler
Pages per day: 44
Karen Joy Fowler is a goddess.
Surely that is the only legitimate reason that a book this wonderful can exist. Perhaps she sold her soul to someone in exchange for the ability to write a book that will capture every person who reads it.
I don’t know.
All I know is that I adored this book, and I’m pretty sure you will as well.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a book about family, acceptance and the very things that make us human. Rosemary is a talkative child turned quiet adult, reminiscing about life with her two siblings, Fern and Lowell. Her memories are of a happy, loving, exciting, unique family – so why did her brother and sister suddenly disappear?
This story starts in the middle. We learn all about Rosemary’s college experiences and general antics of a twenty-something, interwoven with childhood memories. Then the real beginning is thrust at us, and we are not ready. At all. The more of the story we uncover, the more we learn it is significantly more complex and thrilling than we first thought. This system of storytelling is totally enthralling as we try to come to our conclusions as to what the instigating occurrence is, and how it all fits together.
Rosemary is such a likeable character. As a child, she never stopped talking. I suppose I can relate to this, which made her character even more appealing – as a child, I’m pretty sure I talked nonstop and heard the term “can you just be quiet for one minute??” more than a few times. Now, however, she has quietened herself down and shut herself away, because over time she’s learned that things tend to work out better for you if you keep your mouth shut. My favourite character in this story is that of Harlow – the girl who Rosemary befriends after a stint at the local police station. Right from the start, it is apparent that Harlow is not nearly as transparent as she seems. Throughout the course of the book she shakes up Rosemary’s world in seemingly small yet utterly significant ways, with the help of a puppet called Madame Defarge.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves does not end how you hope it to. Take that as a warning. As readers we hope for a heartwarming, teary-eye-inducing ending. That kind of ending is not what this book is all about. The last few pages are bittersweet. Maybe you will shed a little tear, I’m not sure. But given the circumstances surrounding this story, to be honest, you’ll take what you’re given.
I’m so conscious when reviewing this book not to give anything away about the story, because trust me – it is a hundred times better when it’s all a mystery. It’s tricky to explain how intricate this story is without ruining something for you, so just be content with the fact that it is lovely. It is a lovely story that will make you happy and make you sad and make you super angry. It’ll make you look at your childhood in a totally different light. It’ll make you examine all the things that make you YOU.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a gem that digs right to the very core of what makes a family just that. Please, do yourself a favour and find this book somewhere – the library, your local bookshop, borrow it from a friend or even pick it up on the Internet (you can get it from Book Depository right here with free shipping worldwide). If you read this book, please let me know – I would love to hear what you think!
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Next week’s book is The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. The review will be posted next Monday – make sure to check in! If you’ve got any other suggestions for book for my challenge, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below!
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~Some links in this article are affiliate links in that if you purchase something from them, it will not cost you any more, but I will earn a small commission. This does not influence my recommendation in any way, I would still use this product even if I were not an affiliate.~