30 Apr 2015

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES.


WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by KAREN JOY FOWLER.

BACK COVER BLURB: What if you grew up to realise that your father has used your childhood as an experiment?

Rosemary doesn't talk very much, and about certain things she's silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it's been ten years since she last saw her beloved brother Lowell.

Now at college, Rosemary starts to see that she can't go forward without going back, back to the time when, aged five, she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone.

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: Those who know me now will be surprised to learn that I was a great talker as a child.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 79}: We went to exactly one party in my first five years, and I don't even remember it, but Lowell told me there'd been an unfortunate incident involving a pinata, a baseball bat and a lot of flying candy that ended with Fern biting Bertie Cubbins, the birthday girl, on the leg. Biting someone who's not in the family - apparently, a really big deal.

SOURCE: Apparently the talk of the staff room where Mr T works. My thanks to Rachel for the loan of this book.

MY THOUGHTS: A book that had I known the twist in the tale beforehand I would not have considered reading. Let me begin by saying that it is despite and not because of 'the twist' (a twist that is making this review that much harder to write for fear of spoilers) that I rated this book as I did.*

A story of sibling rivalry, of the childhood events and memories (real, imagined, and misremembered) that shape us as adults. A novel that explores love, loss and attachment.

A literary work of what I guess most would think of as an unusual if not dysfunctional family, a family in which the relationships aren't always what they at first seem - heck, a story in which the individuals aren't always as they at first seem.

Beginning not in the beginning as most stories do but in the middle as, not nearly as complicated as it sounds, the novel darts around in time chronicling the life events of our narrator, Rosemary, who in order to protect herself has buried certain things deep within the recesses of her mind.

Though very readable ultimately this was a book that I found somewhat emotionally draining, the message that the human animal can (intentionally or otherwise) cause such devastation brought home to me in no uncertain terms. 

 * As you probably know I no longer do star ratings here on Pen and Paper but for those sites requiring it I awarded this three 'It was OK' stars.

11 comments:

Kelly said...

Well, well... a very cryptic review. My curiosity IS piqued, but I'm not sure I dare give it a shot. I may put it on my wish list "just because". I'll also try to stay away from Amazon reviews so that I don't find out the "twist".

I've just finished an emotional roller coaster of a read, so I'm definitely not up for this any time soon.

Kelly said...

Well, darn. I saw the "twist" when I checked it out at Amazon (blatantly exposed right in the main blurb!).

*sigh* I think I'll leave it off my wishlist for now.

Suko said...

Tracy, thanks again for your honest review! I am not in the mood for "emotionally draining" right now.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Thanks for sharing. I am curious about this twist - sounds like an interesting novel overall.

-Lauren

Alexia561 said...

I'm a little tired of twists right now and think I need a few straight-forward stories that aren't emotionally draining. Sometimes reading seems harder than it needs to be. *sigh*

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

Good review; no idea what the twist is, which is great. I've been looking at this one for a while, the cover's nice and the reviews have seemed positive.

Brandi Kosiner said...

You know me and my relationship with the emotional

Brian Joseph said...

It sounds like there is a lot of darkness contained in this story. That can be appealing but it can also be disturbing.

It also sounds like the twist in this story really did not work. I find that is surprisingly common with unexpected turns in plots.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Sounds like it falls short of what the book could have been. Too bad about the twist. I hate it when they don't work.

Literary Feline said...

I've been curious about this book, but on the fence about whether I want to read it. It does sound dark--which doesn't bother me. Hmm. I may read this one just yet.

Bo said...

This sounds a little too much like the story of my life. The first 18 years of my life was nothing but sibling rivalry with my older brother being just 13 1/2 months older than me. We had some pretty epic battles. This one sounds like it might come a little too close to home.