We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

I won’t lie, this book was a bit of a struggle. And by struggle I mean it took me about three months to get through it. It’s an amazing topic, but I found the main character’s voice fragmented, distracted and quite annoying. But this is a result of her the deep trauma you discover as the story unfolds.

The story is an important one. And considering this book won The Man Booker Prize, I think others would disagree with my review.

Current day is set in the 1990s and flashes back to the family’s home in the 1970s, Rosemary tells a fragmented story of her twin sister, Fern, who is a chimpanzee. Rosemary and Fern were raised together and then separated at the age of five – Fern is never to be seen again. As a result, the family is divided.

What I found most fascinating about this novel was this story is based on a series of events that actually occurred in real life – there really were scientists and psychologists putting chimps into homes and seeing how they developed amongst humans. Sadly, what the story demonstrates is that the animal is left in some in between world of never being quite human and never being able to function amongst others of it’s own kind.

The book is a confronting and distressing read – but excellent. I don’t want to say I wouldn’t recommend it… however I probably wouldn’t go back and reread the book.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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