We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a psychological novel that touches on family, communication, lack of family communication, and memory. It is a story of loss, and the possibilities of recovery from loss, even if only partial.

The narrator, Rosemary, admits that her recollection is not perfect, but her account of her family's disruption from losing her sister pulled me through the story in less than a day and a half. The story starts in the middle, just as garrulous little Rosemary was advised to start in the middle during her childhood (by adults who wanted to hear less). Starting in the middle allows her to hide the most important detail about Fern, her lost sister, from us until the middle of the book. The story was well written, with some clever language (facilitated by setting up the narrator as a clever, if damaged, person) without obviously contrived punchlines. The supporting characters range from her psychology professor father to her brother (wanted by the F.B.I.) to a wild-child theatre major with whom she gets arrested on the day they meet. Adding a few props, like a ventriloquist's dummy in a suitcase that should have contained diaries from Rosemary's mother, packs the clown car for an interesting ride.

I am now going to look for Fowler's other books. I have seen the most press on The Jane Austen Book Club, so I may try that next.

~ Shana