Writing a review of this novel is tricky business as I want to avoid spoiling the big reveal that occurs a third of the way through. The secret is imperative to Fowler’s narrative and is done so masterfully that I am sure it will delight you as much as it has me. So all this to say, I can’t tell you what this book is about really, only vaguely. Intrigued? You should be! The protagonist, Rosemary Cooke, has a family tale of woe like no other. Sure Tolstoy said that all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, but Rosemary’s sufferings are truly unique. She is a college student, living in California, the daughter of two behavior psychologists. Her sister disappeared and her brother went AWOL in response. That is all I will say in regards to the plot. Rosemary is a skillful narrator – one gift her parents did give her was a thorough training in observation so you will be in good hands.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is an angsty comedy, while also being a serious moral tale. Fowler invites the reader to become better stewards of creation, to consider our parental mistakes, and to reject solipsism. It sounds preachy, but Fowler is able to explore these themes without proselytizing. With ten novels under her belt, she is a veteran author after all. And the writing is smart, but also has a great deal of heart. I find so many of the clever domestic tales out there are so busy being clever that they forget to have any sympathy for the characters. Fowler, on the other hand, creates characters that you feel a need to cry over. Granted it probably struck a chord with me on a personal level because I have a very wonderful sister just like Rosemary (thankfully, mine hasn’t disappeared). After reading the novel, I found myself agreeing with Fowler on how formative a sister can be on one’s own identity. Sisters (and I suppose by extension, brothers, though I have no experiential knowledge of this) are powerful molders of our perception of self. Do you agree? Come get the book today and let us know what you think! And while you are up here, check out our new fiction area. It has never been easier to browse our fabulous titles and find your next great read.
by Melodie Rae Storey.