We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

24836625We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Once again I was fooled by the cover.  It looked like a fun, dysfunctional family romp. This also happened to me with The Fields by Kevin Maher.  This time it is animal testing, in The Fields it was cleric sexual abuse.

There was definitely dysfunction in the family, an older brother and sister were unaccounted for at the start of the story.  I didn’t read the back cover properly or I would have realised something about the sister.  Maybe I did read it and it just sounded more fun.  It wasn’t fun.

Rosemary is telling her family’s story.  She starts in the middle and skips around a bit. It is a gripping read, you can’t predict what is on the next page. Rosemary says she used to talk a lot, now she is pretty silent.  She attends Uni but doesn’t have a group of friends or any idea what she should get a degree in, she has been attending for some time.

Her Uni is far from home but she visits her parents on holidays.  She can’t talk to her parents about what happened to her siblings, but she might  like to know more.  She feels that she is to blame and is carrying lots of guilt.

She makes a friend, gets thrown in jail and drinks too much on a night out.  Her Mum gives her the journals that she wrote when Rosemary was small. She isn’t sure she wants to read them.  She puts them in her luggage which gets lost by the airline.

Rosemary’s Dad is a scientist.  He does experiments on animals.  There is a bit of graphic detail around how animals were used for testing, it is shocking and sad.

Near the end of the book I got concerned, how would the author tie up all the bits of the story without rushing or glossing over things.  I needn’t have worried, this book has an ending that fits the story.  A satisfying read.

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One thought on “We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

  1. Bridget Schaumann says:

    I also loved this, and was confused by it and had a ‘what the’ moment when I found out exactly what the story was with the sister. Really interesting story, and I liked the factual stuff at the end too where they talk about the way this scenario actually happened in families in the USA.

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