My sister-in-law read Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and then gave it five stars on Goodreads with this review: “Don’t read any reviews on this book just read it.” She’s not one to be prolific with the perfect ratings so I did just what she advised and I can only suggest you do the same. Unfortunately, when I tried to be a good library citizen (the book was due back and I couldn’t renew due to a wait list), I looked for the library’s digital copy. For whatever reason, the Kindle description of this book completely spoils one of the surprising things about this tale, and so I didn’t get to go in completely fresh for this one. I think that might have been the reason I gave it just the four stars; in any case, the book is great and the ‘secret’ is revealed in the first third of the book, just try not to read too much about it.
Ostensibly Fowler’s novel is just like any other about a family and how they deal with tragedy. Rosemary Cooke is the daughter of a scientist father and traditional Midwestern mother, with an older brother she idolizes and a mysteriously absent sister. Through her narration, the reader learns just what happened to turn her father into a hopeless alcoholic, her mother into a depressed emotionless woman, her brother into a fugitive, and her sister into just a distant memory. That’s all I really want to say about the plot for fear of giving too much away.
I finished this book in a few sittings; while babysitting my niece and nephew I think I made it through 200 pages after they went to bed. It’s definitely a page-turner. Rosemary is an interesting, if only partially reliable narrator. No one can remember that much detail about their life prior to five. The supporting cast isn’t as clearly drawn but then again, this is a first-person narrative so we’re only getting Rosemary’s side of the story. The only thing I found lacking in this book, much like my other review from today, is that the end just abruptly happens and is almost delivered as a “where are they now?” kind of epilogue. Other than that I really enjoyed this book and hope you do as well.