We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

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Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Format: Paperback
Published: 19th June 2014
Amazon | Goodreads

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.

*Warning: this review contains spoilers*

This book is fantastic however it is best going in knowing as little as possible. If you actually plan on buying this book, don’t read my review.

I’ve read a number of Man Booker nominated books over the past year and the thing I’ve found is that most of them are boring and try too hard at being some amazing work of literary fiction. I went into We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves thinking it would be another boring Man Booker nominated book, I was so wrong.

I actually went into this thinking it was science-fiction (not sure where I read that), it is not though science and biology play an important role. This book makes a very good argument for why wild animals should not be kept as pets.

The basic plot of this is a girl (Rosemary), who is now in college, tries to work out why her sister disappeared at the age of five. I love that you don’t find out that Rosemary’s sister is in fact a chimpanzee till nearly a third of the way through the book. Karen Joy Fowler spends most of the first 70 pages making Fern feel like a real person so when the twist comes and you find out Fern is in fact a chimpanzee its a huge shock.

I am a self-confessed animal lover. I have spent years watching TV shows like Monkey Life and Monkey Business. I know that chimpanzees don’t make good pets and I know the reasons why. The thing I loved about this book is that it was not a book about a chimp living with a family. This was very much Rosemary’s story about how she had to adapt to living without her sister.

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This was a fantastic look at why wild animals should not be kept as pets and had some extremely important things to say about the inhumane way that animals are used to test products for humans. This book is a must read but also a warning, it might make you change what make-up products you purchase, it might change how you view zoos, it might even make you become a vegetarian.

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