We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler
Allen & Unwin
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.
What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said before? I came late to this party, I had heard lots of good things but nothing in specific. I knew this was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 (yes again I am late to this party- my apologies), so I knew this was a title that was worth investigating. My tip – for those who have not read this yet– do not read any reviews – just know this is an amazing book and read and discover that for yourself.
After I read this outstanding narrative – I needed a few days to compose myself and to regain my emotional equilibrium. I wanted to mouth the language of teenagers and simply state “OMG OMG!” loudly and proudly. How does anyone come up with a premise such as this? (I know I read the last pages, her daughter planted the seed) And then how do that make this premise work so well? What an incredible brain Karen Joy Fowler must have to even contemplate such a mind blowing story. What an amazing journey the reader is taken on – the big reveal is around page 77 ( don’t seek this out, just read and follow along and be prepared for the king hit), and Karen I do understand why you made that reveal at that point, by then we are well and truly involved in this family….and understanding and listening in and being part of this story is an great strategy – our protagonist and narrator, Rosemary, talks to us as if we are part of a conversation or maybe privy to her own personal thoughts or her dairy…almost in a stream of conscious type dialogue in parts of the book. I loved the story of the two sisters – Rosemary and Fern. So innocent and so beguiling. And so sad.
What happens next is…well you will have to read that yourself. There are some things in life, ordinary everyday things that you don’t usually even stop to consider before reading this book that now will haunt you forever. Were you complicit in this events? By saying or doing nothing were you giving tacit approval? I dare you to have a dry eye after you complete this journey…OMG!!!