Review: ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ by Karen Joy Fowler


As is the nature of a prolific bookworm, you reach the stage where, while you enjoy the plots of books, they cease to surprise you. That is why reading ‘We are Completely Beside Ourselves’ by Fowler is such a joy. It has been a number of years since I have had to incredulously scan back to work out how I could have possibly missed such a twist in a tale.

Being the daughter of two psychologists herself, Fowler is masterful in her depiction of the young life of Rosemary and her two siblings – both of which disappear from her life. The book follows Rosemary at various points in her childhood through adolescence, trying to piece together the mystery of their disappearance and her own identity in light of it all.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2014, the first person narrative takes on an informative tone throughout – often Fowler having her protagonist aware that she is speaking to the reader about her life. This is gradually subverted as we discover how unreliable Rosemary actually is; her story flitting back and forth, revealing more and more of her bizarre upbringing surrounded by researchers.
Fowler dodges the pitfall of cliché that often arrives with a coming of age narrative by steering clear of a romantic solution to Rosemary’s idiosyncrasies which is entirely refreshing.
In fact, the novel itself feels like a breath of fresh air, offering up a genuinely original narrative for the prolific reader who has become complacent in their assumptions of plot.

K ~


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