We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler, is a novel, that is often humorous, but one that touches on extremely serious issues.
To delve into the heart of the story would be to give it away. And, if by chance, you have not heard about the book and what it depicts, then I, for one, am not willing to give the entire story away.
Suffice it to say that it is a novel that portrays familial bonds, in more ways than one. From secrets to anger, jealousy to love, empathy to apathy, social harmony and disharmony, Fowler, in my opinion, writes with minute details, which enhance the word-imagery. The family consists of Rosemary, Fern, and their older brother-the brother who has run away. He is a significant force within the pages, especially the last part of the book. In the beginning the reader is not really certain why he left, but as the pages are woven, the answer is clear.
Rosemary has grown up under the shadow of Fern, more or less. And, at a young age is separated from her, not knowing the true reason why. As an adult, she is still trying to cope with the loss of Fern, and with her unique and very unconventional childhood. Her childhood imprints have taken hold in many forms and have given her the status of a social misfit of sorts. She has difficulty coping in what we conceive as normal environments.
Throughout the pages, the reader is faced with Rosemary’s journey towards separation from her sister, her journey towards SELF, and her journey to learn who she is in the scheme of family, society and social standards.
The book is not only an exploration of what it means to be a family unit, but also an exploration into humanity, humaneness, and perception of humans and their place within the entire spectrum.
Karen Joy Fowler has done her research, and has given us a glimpse of a situation that has long-lasting ramifications for the familial bonds developed from infancy. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is humorous, yet intense, filled with moments that make the reader think about what they have read, and how it applies to them.