This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Amanda Keats
Nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2014, this book is a miraculous work of fiction so rooted in reality and so full of heart that it is one best read in as few sittings as possible. This is a book for which you should be prepared to soak away hours in a cold bath!
There is a family: two parents, two daughters, one son. When Rosemary, our narrator, reaches five years old her sister vanishes and nobody seems to want to talk about it. A few years later, her brother does too. She is left behind and it is the need to discover the truth behind these disappearances that makes this such a gripping read. Rosemary herself is quite comfortable exploring just how unreliable her own telling really is. She was, after all, only five years old when her sister was sent away and she can only tell her part as best she can.
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There has been lots of talk about the big ‘twist’ in We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – it’s even mentioned on the cover itself – and it’s easy to see why. Yet the reveal itself is not quite as shocking as many might have you believe. If anything, it just clarifies matters and makes the rest of the book that much more compelling thanks to this newly added layer.
This is a book that needs to be read in the order your narrator chooses to reveal it and knowing something before she is ready to share it just doesn’t seem right.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is an immersive work of storytelling, allowing for the very grey area of humanity to be explored without anyone being painted as the villain or hero. People make mistakes along the way – some more than others – but the majority are driven by good intentions.There are so many issues explored in this book beyond the central focus of family loyalty and hiding your true self. Yet, at the same time, it manages to raise numerous ethical and moral dilemmas in a way that is truly accessible. To say any more would do you (and Rosemary) a disservice.
This is bold and daring storytelling, wrapped in a warm comforting blanket. Flawless.