We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
By Karen Joy Fowler
I had no intention of reading this book when it first appeared in book stores alongside The Shock of The Fall. I don’t know why, but the synopsis on the back of the book didn’t draw me in and I didn’t think of it again until someone on Instagram posted that they were reading it, but not really getting into it. I felt like I needed a challenging book to get my face stuck into.
To begin with, I didn’t enjoy the way the book was written. It’s one of those books which flits from present to past, but this book flits back to different ‘pasts’ all at once. I got used to it, but it did take quite a bit of concentration on my part.
We find out early on that the narrator, Rosemary, has a brother and a sister, both of whom disappear from her life in seemingly very different circumstances, when Rosemary was still a child. She reviews her life and these events from her adult perspective.
Rosemary also tells us that as a child, no one could shut her up. So much so that her father told her to ‘Skip the beginning. Start in the middle’ – and this is exactly what form this book takes. Nowadays, however, we find that Rosemary is introverted, uncompromisingly quiet and unnoticeable.
So, what happened to these three children? I guess you’d better read and find out…
Fortunately, I’d not read any reviews or spoilers before picking this up and so the second half of the book took me aback – in a really good way. One of the most unexpected and surreptitious ‘twists’ I’ve read in a while. Honestly, if you’re going to read this book, try and avoid any reviews that don’t have a clear *no spoilers* warning. I use Goodreads, which is pretty good for that.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and felt like it was a bit of a breath of fresh air. It tackles topics I’ve not read much about previously, and there’s something refreshing about Fowler’s writing.