We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; terribly good and terribly sad

completely beside ourselvesMy rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

When I started reading this book about a family member, Fern, who has evidently gone missing or died, I really liked how it didn’t start with how she had disappeared or when. The narrator, Rosemary, is Fern’s sister and she begins the story half-way through (running us through events that happen after Fern’s disappearance). I thought this was a really smart approach; a very unique and powerful way of letting us learn about her family and investing in them, before the inevitable bombshell. As it turns out, it’s actually a necessary plot device or else the story wouldn’t have worked so well (it would be a big spoiler to say why…).

I’ve seen the book everywhere of course (who hasn’t?) but I was very happy not to have known anything about it. I understand why it’s been so successful. It’s very well written. Fowler has a beautiful way with words and descriptions, particular concerning the relationship between Rosemary and Fern. It’s a very sad book about how a family falls apart after a devastating experience, but it’s also very different to other books in this genre (for reasons that become apparent a third of the way through). The blurb says that the book really makes the reader think about what it means to be “human” and it’s true. It also made me think about how it’s sometimes the small things we do and importantly, our reactions to them, that are sometimes the things that can have the biggest ramifications. It also touches on important issues concerning science and terrorism.

I think it’s a little long, but incredibly good and terribly sad. Well worth a read.

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