We are all completely beside ourselves

Hardcover, 310 pages

Published Dec. 3, 2013 by G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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5 stars (1 review)

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 is a chimp and, already, you aren't thinking of her as my sister. . . . Until Fern's expulsion . . . she was my twin, my fun-house mirror, my whirlwind other half. . . . 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.

4 editions

A Grounded, Complex Look at Intersecting Worlds

5 stars

This was the first book I picked up this year. I think about it all the time, and it's one that I expect I shall revisit. There's a lot going on here: individual and familial conflict and splintering in loss; some of the potential effects of choosing an active, militant, radical, underground life; the close, easy bonds between people and the "natural" world we inhabit, and the ways that these are distorted and ruptured by contemporary social structures; and on.

I think that any radical—especially those interested in animal liberation—should pick this up, at the very least for the lens it offers. But I also think that those who aren't radical will find insights here to hold on to—and may come to understand some pieces of what move the rest of us.