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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Fowler, Karen Joy (Book - 2013 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
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Coming of age in middle America, eighteen-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.
Authors: Fowler, Karen Joy
Title: We are all completely beside ourselves
Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2013
Characteristics: 310 p. ;,22 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Karen Joy Fowler
Notes: "A Marian Wood book."
Summary: Coming of age in middle America, eighteen-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.
ISBN: 9780399162091
0399162097
Branch Call Number: FICTION FOWLER 2013
Subject Headings: Families Fiction Self-realization in women Fiction Human-animal relationships Fiction Life change events Fiction
Genre/Form: Domestic fiction
Psychological fiction
Topical Term: Families
Self-realization in women
Human-animal relationships
Life change events
LCCN: 2013000988
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Library Staff

Coming of age in middle America, 18-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.

DO NOT READ ANY REVIEW OR SUMMARIES OF THIS BOOK! Just dive in and read! It's beautifully written and totally surprising.


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Jul 24, 2014
  • samdog123 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

A difficult book to read simply because the main character, Rosemary is so dysfunctional. Raised until the age of 5 with a chimpanzee named Fern, the two grew as sisters. When Fern disappears, its a devastating loss to the entire family and each one finds their own way to cope. Despite the recommendations of my fellow librarian colleagues, it was not my favourite.

Jul 24, 2014
  • katejay42 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I really loved this book, it is one you still think about long after it has been returned. I am glad I did not know "the secret" before I read it, it added a whole different dimension to my read (and I am one who usually reads the end first). I too will not soon forget Fern.

Apr 19, 2014
  • sjacobson1112 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Such a good book addressing some of the issues with keeping chimpanzees as pets.

Mar 11, 2014
  • Cynthia_N rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The story was good but not really captivating until the last section. I would have enjoyed it more if it had focused on the relationship between Rosemary and Fern.

Mar 05, 2014
  • smc01 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An excellent study of what loss does to a family, and of enduring love. I'll not soon forget Fern and Rosemary.

Jan 29, 2014
  • ownedbydoxies rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

It's very difficult to discuss this book without giving too much away. I've recommended it to friends, but told them they have to trust me on this and I can't tell them anything about the book! You need to discover the characters on your own, otherwise it loses its immediacy. But while the subject matter is often heart-rending, the author manages to inject so much love and humor into her main characters and into their relationships, she leaves the reader loving her characters, too, complete with all their faults and foibles.

Dec 30, 2013
  • gracindaisy rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Meet sisters Rosemary and Fern, a girl and a chimpanzee, both raised together by their family. One day, Fern disappears and every member of the family is forever changed. Recommended by NPR.

Dec 13, 2013
  • Michael Colford rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Karen Joy Fowler's novels are a joy to read. Best known for The Jane Austen Book Club (certainly the most straight-forward of her books) Fowler got her start writing science fiction, and she first caught my eye with the complex, challenging novel, Sarah Canary. With We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Fowler tackles the challenges of a family torn apart by grief and lies, and a burgeoning animal rights movement in the 1970s.

To say too much about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves would be to spoil its somewhat shocking moment revealed about one quarter of the way through. It's enough to know that Rosemary is our narrator, one member of a family forever changed by the loss of her sister Fern. As Rosemary informs the reader, her story starts in the middle, while she is attending college at UC Davis, then leaps backwards and forwards to unspool a tale rooted in a part of our country's recent history that was both sensationalistic and little known.

But at its core, Fowler's novel succeeds winningly as a family tale, and one young woman's difficult difficult journey to adulthood. I love that Fowler's novels always possess a sliver of unreality or otherworldliness even when rooted in realism. I look forward to each and every one of her books.

Nov 06, 2013
  • Laphroaig rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

An interesting, quirky story, though a bit preachy at times.

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