Thursday, 15 May 2014

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Genre: Modern Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 310
Source: Public Library
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons
First Published: May 2013
First Line: "Those who know me now will be surprised to learn that I was a great talker as a child."

Book Description from GoodReadsMeet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.


My Review:  After reading the description on the book jacket while perusing the library for new reads I was eager to crack this book open.  It sounded like a family drama wrapped up in a suspenseful read.  A missing sister and a brother hunted by the FBI for domestic terrorism?  Sounds good but after reading this book I could describe this book in one word ... strange. 

The book started off strong with me anxious to find out what happened to Fern, Rosemary's missing sister.  And then, fairly early on, we learned who Fern is and I was utterly gobsmacked and felt almost betrayed and tricked by the surprise.  This revelation changed the entire book for me from then on. I was expecting a mystery of sorts to figure out where the sister went and I suppose there is one but not what I was expecting.

Without giving anything away, there were some issues brought up in the book that were heart-wrenching and the inclusion of the psychology-based information throughout the book helped me feel like I was using my psych degree just a bit. ;)  But even that seemed to get tedious and overdone quickly.

Unfortunately Rosemary and the other characters weren't engaging at all.  Rosemary was a confusing protagonist as she tells her story but often wasn't sure if what she was telling was in the present, past or something from a dream.  This made it very confusing for the reader.  Then there were the secondary characters who just didn't seem to fit into the plot well.  There were a couple of truly odd characters, namely the marionette (yes, a puppet) and the CIA-wannabe landlord, who both felt out of place within the main story.  I'm still not sure why they were added. 

The writing also felt disjointed and the plot just plodded along so much so that I ended up skimming passages less than half way through.  I finished the book, but just barely.   I can't help but feel that the controversial aspect of the book and the case studies took precedence over the quality and interest of the storyline.  While I did find some of the scientific/psychological aspects of the book interesting the fictional writing was less than captivating.

I think the author was going for a unique plot and it is unique.  Just not interesting and verged on being tedious and very grim.  I do believe that the issues brought forth are very important and this is shown with some emotional and disturbing situations in the book.  I have no issue with forcing the reader to look at something uncomfortable and in need of change.  Unfortunately, there were just too many other hurdles in this book to overcome and overall I just didn't like this book.  

My Rating: 1/5 stars

1 comment:

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