Book Review

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Every family has their own language. Their own systems and secret rules.

I think to a certain degree everyone has an awareness of this ‘differentness’ but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to integrate into a new family until I got married.

I love my new family but their ‘otherness’ confuses me (as I bet I’m an oddity to them). I’m still learning the rules and how everyone relates to one another. What to say, how to handle certain situations, and all the little details in between.

Families have layers of history, embedded and unseen.


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler is about the breaking of the Cooke family. Our narrator, Rosemary, starts her story in the middle, where she is a broken woman who has cloaked herself in silence.

As a child she would ramble on and on, surrounding her family with her presence. But as her childhood progresses, Rosemary’s external circumstances push her inward.

When Rosemary was five, her sister Fern was taken, and at age twelve her older brother Lowell ran away.

Rosemary only has her memories, as her parents won’t discuss the past, but she’s unsure what fragments are real.

For my reviews I try my best to be spoiler-free. Spoilers don’t take away the enjoyment if a book/movie/show is good, but I love to be surprised in media. So I never want to take that away from someone.

Do NOT read the back cover of this edition!  Bad Book!!

I went back and forth about if I should discuss the twist in this novel, but I decided not to, so forgive me if the review is short.

Thankfully, I usually skim the back cover because my copy of the book actually has the twist on THE BACK COVER! (so don’t read it!) And even then I didn’t figure it out! 

I wish my oblivious mind would protect me from Game of Thrones spoilers, too.

I will tell you that I’m glad I read this book.

I wasn’t expecting this from the author of The Jane Austen Book Club, which was a fun book but nothing heavy. I thought her new book was going to be on the humorous side, like ‘oh look at how strange my family is’. Zany situations follow.

I might have chuckled here or there, but this is a serious book. The pace was a little slow, but I didn’t mind. I felt like everything Fowler was giving the reader was important to the picture she was creating.

My suggestion is just to read this book.

It’s Red approved!

My only warning is that there are some scenes of graphic violence, especially towards animals. It’s not consistent, but very startling. A couple made me queasy. These scenes do have a purpose, but if you’re a super-duper animal lover and your dream is to have an animal sanctuary… you might want to skip.

Score: 8/10


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