Monday, 23 March 2015

Book Review #11 / We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Books with a twist are probably my favourite kind of book. Especially those twists that you just do not see coming and actually have to re-read the page to double check it really happened. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves did just that and had me seriously gripped from start to finish...

What if you grew up to realise that your father had used your childhood as an experiment?

Rosemary doesn't talk very much, and about certain things she's silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it's been ten years since she last saw her beloved older brother Lowell.

Now at college, Rosemary starts to see that she can't go forward without going back, back to the time when, aged five, she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone.

It's actually really hard to write this review, without giving anything away, because the big twist I'm talking about actually happens less than a quarter of the way into the book so, obviously, plays a huge part in the rest of the story. You could obviously google the book and find out what it is but I urge you NOT to. I'm not saying you wouldn't enjoy the book if you knew what was inevitably going to be revealed, but I just think it made me so much more intrigued because I really had no idea what was going to happen.
I've seen a lot of talk of this book on different blogs, and Good Reads, but - thankfully - never really read much into it so, therefore, had absolutely no idea what it was about.
The title doesn't really give anything away, nor does the front cover. And the synopsis gave me enough of a teaser to entice me into going ahead and buying it without actually hinting what was going to happen.
I don't really want to say too much but, what I will say, is that I really, really enjoyed this book as the storyline is so unique and unlike anything I've read before. The lead character Rosemary, now in he forties, tells the story, reflecting back on her childhood through to her time at college. She's incredibly easy to relate to and I found myself empathising with her from the start. The looping narrative that starts towards the end and then goes back to the beginning only adds to the quirkiness of the story but does mean you have to pay a little extra attention.
Twist aside, this book tells the story of sibling bonds and how devastating it can be when that bond is broken. We learn very early on - and from the synopsis - that Rosemary's brother and sister disappear from her life, at different points, and see how this affects her personality and character dramatically, as she goes from being a lively, chatty child to a quiet, withdrawn teenager. 
As Rosemary grows up she begins to understand her childhood was very different to other people's and that it has changed her entire outlook on life. This book uncovers topics and issues I had never even thought about before but is so well researched that it doesn't leave you feeling confused. It's hilarious yet heartbreaking, amazingly written and is one of the best books I've read in a while. 

Have you read this book? Would you like to?

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, £3.85, Amazon.
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