"...a necessary read. For all of mankind."
I want to extend the same courtesy that so many other reviewers extended to me by NOT exposing a key point of this story that, some 70 to 80 pages in, changes everything you may expect about this novel. A key point that makes the story that much better.
(Warning: resist reading reviews – except mine ☺– before picking up this book. Commit to those first 80 pages before you decide if it’s for you. But DO read the book jacket copy, which is enchanting in itself).
These are the things I WILL reveal: WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was a finalist in a slew of other highly reputable competitions for a reason. For many reasons. For starters the main character, Rosemary’s first-person narrative (speaking directly to the reader) is absolutely unique and enchanting. (And most who know me, know I am not a big first-person cheerleader). And despite the seriousness of the book, Rosemary’s observations – many times – are laugh-out-loud funny. The writing is descriptive without overload; in many instances it is exquisite.
Suffice it to say that if you enjoy science, have a kinship with or compassion for animals, are interested in interpersonal family drama (and the fascinating psychology behind it), as well as stories about relationships and conflict and misunderstanding and cause and effect and communication breakdowns and sisterhood and sibling dynamics, this is THE book for you. This story will leave you pondering, will make you mad, will warm your heart, will probably make you cry. It isn’t an easy read due its subject matter, but I would argue it’s a necessary read. For all of mankind.
I can’t think of a better way to begin the year than with a literary book like this. I will leave you with just one of the fantastic, tasty, thought-provoking morsels in WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler:
“…Language does this to our memories – simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.”