Book Review – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

by Karen Joy Fowler

Started: 4th August 2015

Finished: 9th August 2015

This story caught my attention months ago and I recently treated myself to it. Fiction with psychology is something I’m very interested in, even to the point it’s often the subject of my own writing. It’s because of this that I was expecting to love this and it just didn’t turn out that way for me…

The story is told by Rosemary Cooke who was brought up with her brother and sister in an unusual way. She tells us about her childhood and how her life was different to others as a result.

There isn’t a great deal I can say about the plot because it has a twist that really changes the story. It was certainly a twist I didn’t see coming but I was kind of hoping it would be something else. That being said, I did still find the novel interesting and it went to really different places which I’ve not read in a novel before. The plot was certainly original but wasn’t what I was hoping for from the impression I got from the blurb.

In terms of characters, I did find Rosemary incredibly difficult to like at times. This would usually really put me off of a novel, and there were times when it came close. However when I reminded myself that this is a far more realistic way for Rosemary to act given her upbringing. One character I couldn’t make the same excuse for, though, was Harlow. I was intrigued with the way her and Rosemary would interact but as a stand alone character I couldn’t like her. The only character I did like was Lowell, which I was surprised by as I didn’t like him at all in the beginning or in flashbacks to when Rosemary was a child.

Despite some issues I had with the plot and characters, I really liked the way the novel was written. There was something about the blunt tone to the novel that I enjoyed and felt that it was really fitting to the story. Even during the more mysterious moments of the novel, I didn’t feel as though the narrator was playing around with us. The addition of references to other psychological studies, to give the novel a more authentic feel was a nice touch and something I found really interesting.

Overall the book was not what I expected and that did disappoint me. However, I think that is more due to the fact I have done something totally different with the fundamental storyline of a childhood psychology experience, rather than the book itself. I would seriously urge you all to read this as I can safely say it will be one of the most original reads you will experience this year and it will definitely stay with you.

Rating: 3/5

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