We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Book - 2013
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Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize
Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award
One of the New York Times Book Review 's 100 Notable Books of 2013
Named by The Christian Science Monitor as one of the top 15 works of fiction

The New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club introduces a middle-class American family, ordinary in every way but one...
 
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I was raised with a chimpanzee," she explains. "I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion...she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister." As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.

In We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler weaves her most accomplished work to date--a tale of loving but fallible people whose well-intentioned actions lead to heartbreaking consequences.

"A gripping, big-hearted book...through the tender voice of her protagonist, Fowler has a lot to say about family, memory, language, science, and indeed the question of what constitutes a human being."--Khaled Hosseini 
Publisher: New York : G. P. Putnam's Sons, [2013]
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780399162091
0399162097
Branch Call Number: FOW
Characteristics: 310 pages

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Estha
Aug 23, 2017

Great writing, big questions...just what you'd expect from a Booker finalist. A masterful revealing of the narrator's family story and how an experiment on an animal left lasting affects on the whole family. The novel compliments Colin McAdam's A Beautiful Truth (2013) which tells a version of this story from another point of view. Then there is Yann Martel's The High Mountains of Portugal (2016). All grapple with the big important question: what does it mean to be human.

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wordpix
Sep 05, 2016

Whoa! A fascinating book and kind of a wild ride. Couldn't put it down.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is an incredibly intelligent and insightful novel. Several times it got me thinking about our relationships with others and with animals. The subject is well thought out and the research is abundantly clear. Overall, an enjoyable and quick read that may rely a bit too heavily on tricks.

This book is quirky and full of intelligence. It will give you all of the feelings! You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll probably be a better person after you've finished it. Recommended by Gennifer

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sandraperkins
Apr 08, 2016

I found this book to be depressing. First, it is about yet another dysfunctional family, and I find those books depressing. I must say this family is dysfunctional in a most unique way, and it may be worth your reading the book to find out exactly where this family went wrong. There are some other important issues raised in this book, but it is not uplifting--it is depressing. I was interested enough to read to the end, but I really did not enjoy this book.

Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Apr 03, 2016

The story begins in the middle, when Rosemary is a college student who hasn't seen her brother or sister for years. There are so many fascinating issues presented here. Rosemary’s father is a professor surrounded by graduate students, and none of them really think through the implications of their research. Rosemary, Lowell’s brother, is a fugitive because of his work with the Animal Liberation Front. This a strange and wonderful book that will stay with you for a while.

Chapel_Hill_SarahW Jan 26, 2016

As others have noted, this book is read best with no previous information about it, so no spoilers here! I was just telling my co-worker how great it was, but also how it broke my heart and my eyes filled with tears and I got a lump in my throat. Wonderful sadness...lots about memory and family and how we see ourselves.

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EmilyEm
Nov 06, 2015

One sister, still at home with her parents, begins her story in the middle. Her brother and her sister have gone. She's going through adolescence and on to college. Slowly the story unfolds, worth the wait and quite a story. Pitch perfect. A winner of several awards, including the 2014 Man Booker short list. Highly recommended.

Chapel_Hill_ShannonB Aug 03, 2015

This is one of my favorite books that I have read recently. If you can avoid spoilers before reading it, you should do so. The novel has a wonderful narrator who begins telling her story by starting in the middle, a device that Fowler cleverly uses to introduce the characters and unfold the story before she drops a figurative bomb on the reader. A smart and exquisitely sad novel, highly recommended.

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Wong_Anne
Jun 09, 2015

[2014 WINNER Pen/Faulkner Award] From the Man Booker site [short listed]: "As a child, Rosemary used to talk all the time. So much so that her parents used to tell her to start in the middle if she wanted to tell a story. Now Rosemary has just started college and she barely talks at all. And she definitely doesn’t talk about her family. So we're not going to tell you too much either: you'll have to find out for yourself what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone - vanished from her life. But there's something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. So now she's telling her story; a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice". If you have studied/read any psychology, this plot will ring some bells.

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