We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves follows Rosemary Cooke, or Rose, as she tells the story of her life. Roses childhood have been unlike most others, and when she goes to college she has managed to avoid facing the unresolved issues from her past for many years, but a run-in with the law and a girl named Harlow forces Rose to face her past.

This book had me going “What?!” at one specific point in the plot and if you read the book you probably know which one I’m talking about. It made me see Rose, her family and especially her sister in a whole new light. In some ways this plot twist changed everything, and it other ways it didn’t change all that much. It didn’t change the fact that – to me – this book was about how our past and our family shapes us and despite not always liking it, we have to live with it. The plot twist did, however, also raise other themes – that I wont elaborate on now, as I think it might spoil the plot twist a bit.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves tells a beautiful, sad and hopeful story of sibling rivalry, love, guilt and coming to turns with your past, present and future, trough a storyteller that isn’t always completely reliable. It explores a peculiar and then again not all that peculiar relationship between siblings. It explores the inner turmoil of feeling left behind and being afraid of being left behind again. Rose struggles with who she is and how she wants people to perceive her. This follows her through the entire book, despite how much she grows as a person, and how much love she has for those, who made her the way she is.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves raises some interesting questions about the definition of family and about being human. It introduces great characters. It has some unexpected turns, and there was one in particular that left me speechless. This story left me sad, angry, happy and hopeful. It made me root for Rose, while also hating some of her decisions. It left me conflicted about my own state of mind about certain issues. For me it did, what a good book was supposed to, and I strongly recommend it to everyone interested in a great reading experience.

“”The secret to a good life,“ he told me once, “is to bring your A game to everything you do. Even if all you’re doing is taking out the garbage, you do that with excellence””

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, page 271


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