book review

Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Title: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselvesp1040090

Author: Karen Joy Fowler

Rating: 2 Stars

Goodreads. Book Depository. 


Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

Before I get started on my review of this book, I would just like to remind everyone that this is my opinion and I wouldn’t be much of a book blogger if I didn’t review books I didn’t enjoy. That being said, I did not enjoy this book. I am so pleased I borrowed it from the library so I can return it as soon as possible.

The Good:

It was unique? There were certainly parts of this book that were intriguing and interesting. I thought the perspective of the main character was interesting and good who you didn’t quite know what was going to happen.

The Bad:

One thing I do not understand is the ‘big plot twist’. I was told that it was a mind blowing plot twist and would just rock my world but I have a few issues with it. One, it was revealed in the first 70 pages. You barely even got connected to the characters before you knew the big twist and, as a reader of many books with BIG twists, this was such an anti-climax. I was really disappointed that I got to the end and found out that was it.

I also didn’t feel a deep connection to any of the characters. The book ended with nothing really explained. You didn’t know more about the sister, or the brother or anything really. It just – ended. It was really dissatisfying as you got to the end and it was just over. No feeling except rage for wasting your time. I was really mad because I felt mislead about it all!

This book talks very much about monkeys and evolution and being a non-believer about that stuff, I was also very frustrated. I think it’s really horrible to mess with your children’s mind for the sake of science too so really weird.

The Interesting:

Not interesting per se, but I found it intriguing that I felt really off put the moment I picked up this book. I felt sick about reading it and I should have realised this was a sign that I should have put the book down. I hate leaving books unfinished though so I persevered. Thankfully it was not a long book, so I managed to read it in a few days.

Recommended for: Contemporary, adult fiction lovers? I don’t even know.

Quotes (Spoiler Free):

“When I run the world, librarians will be exempt from tragedy. Even their smaller sorrows will last only for as long as you can take out a book.”

“Language does this to our memories–simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.”

This book was recommended to be by a work colleague and I love getting recommendations. I think it is awesome how people’s likes and dislikes about reading can be so different and I just love that I have the opportunity to share. If you have read this book, let me know what you thought of it! I’d be intrigued to hear.

Buy it here.

See you next time!

Maddy xx


One thought on “Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

  1. I had the same issue with this book. Where is the plot? Where are the details that make us connect with the characters and care about what happens? This was my second book by the author, and both times I was disappointed!


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