Monday, July 8, 2013

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Sisters. When I finished reading Karen Joy Fowler’s novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, I was reminded of something a friend called to my attention decades ago. She said that one of the most important questions we have to answer is that when we say “we,’ who do we mean? Fowler refers to “we” in a manner that may surprise readers. The family life of protagonist Rosemary Cooke fell apart starting at age five when her sister, Fern, was suddenly removed from the household. Rosemary didn’t know family life without Fern, and the loss was devastating for Rosemary and for her brother, Lowell. The surprising element of this novel is that Fern is a chimpanzee. Fowler injects both wit and sadness to this story, constantly reinforcing how closely related humans and chimps are, leading readers to suspend any disbelief about how a family could include a chimp in close family life. Her writing engaged me throughout the novel, and the question for all readers will likely be: “when you say ‘we’, who do you mean? After all, “we” are all creatures, aren’t we? Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves from

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