Book Review | We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

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

The Facts:

  • Published in 2013
  • Short listed for the Man Booker Prize 2014.
  • Winner/nominee of various other bookish awards that are lesser known (to me).


I don’t want to say too much because, in my opinion, this book is best read going in blind.  I will say it is a story about a family, told from one member’s – the youngest daughter named Rosemary – point of view.

Non-Spoiler Thoughts:

This book really makes a person think about so many different topics – family, how childhood events can affect you for life, relationships, animals, and so on… Even though the story is a bit fantastical, the themes are ones that are relatable, and good self-reflection fodder.

There is a plot twist – or unexpected revelation maybe is the better way to describe it – that I certainly didn’t see coming.  (Although looking back, there were a lot of clues that I just didn’t pick up on).  It surprised me enough, that I almost want to go back and re-read the first 75ish pages or so, to pick up on all the foreshadowing I missed the first time around.  I’ve talked to people who both knew and didn’t know the “twist” prior to reading the book, and both sides still had an enjoyable reading experience.  Just knowing myself, however, I HATE spoilers, so am glad I didn’t know.  Of note, if you come across the red paperback edition, and don’t want to know the twist, do not, I repeat DO NOT read the synopsis on the back cover.

I feel like this is an odd review, because, again, I don’t want to give anything away… but I will say this:  This book affected me on an emotional, as well as physical level.  And by physical, I mean I literally felt mildly nauseous during the reading of several parts of this book.  I think a book that can do that, whether you enjoy it or not, has some power to it.

Although I didn’t really LIKE Rosemary, I thoroughly enjoyed her as a narrator.  I like her reflective tone throughout, as well as the unreliability of her story in parts. I appreciate the sections she was re-telling from her memory of when she was 5 years old weren’t pristine – as how many of our memories are perfectly clear from when we were that age. That is an aspect in books that tends to bother me – when a narrator is recalling a childhood memory in full clarity, as if that memory has been perfectly preserved through time and can be completely trusted.

Lastly, I also loved the way the story was told, in that it hopped around from middle, to beginning, back to middle, up to the point where the telling of the story ended.  It was an effective way to reveal different parts over time, and kept the reader wanting more, yet wasn’t confusing to keep up.

One of the negatives of this book was I felt it got a little preachy at the end.  I won’t say about what, because again with the spoilers, but you probably know what I mean if you’ve read it.  Or if you haven’t, you’ll know it when you get there.

All in all, I thought it was a great read, and I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads.


| We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves | G.P. Putnam’s Sons | 2013 | hardcover | library |

4 thoughts on “Book Review | We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

  1. Agree, best to go in blind on this one (although I had read a review which revealed the plot twist 😦 and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book) – it was my favourite book of 2014.


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