Book review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Karen Joy FowlerIf you can, read this book by Karen Joy Fowler without reading any reviews or comments beforehand. There is a mammoth twist, which is best avoided. I am one of the lucky few who didn’t read a spoiler before I started reading, I knew only that it was about sibling love. But even so, I did spot the surprise way before it happened, and consequently then read on waiting for the ‘twist’ promised on the cover. Which left me a little deflated. I don’t know why, I expected the twist to be near the end.

This is a very clever story, packed with philosophy, contemporary references such as Star Wars to Korean vocabulary. Rose is a student, looking back at her childhood and the disappearances, at different times, of her sister Fern and her brother Lowell. The story darts around the timeline and Rose tells different versions of her life story as she comes to terms with her life so far. Mostly this method of storytelling worked for me, but on a few occasions I admit to losing patience with Rose who I found an irritating unreliable narrator. I kept reading because the story is unusual, but my incredulity was stretched at times.

The best bit? The very last paragraph makes it worthwhile reading on, but I can’t say it’s a book I enjoyed.

Click here for Karen Joy Fowler’s website.

If you like this, try:-
‘Frog Music’ by Emma Donogue
‘Vinegar Girl’ by Anne Tyler
‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara

‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ by Karen Joy Fowler [UK: Serpent’s Tail] Buy now

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