We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Fowler, Karen Joy

  19 Reviews

When Rosemary was just five, back in Bloomingdale, Indiana, the Cooke family began to implode. Now, almost two decades on, it is time for Rosemary to retrace her steps and understand how her sister Fern could have disappeared and why her brother Lowell is also among the missing. Most important of all will be the question that could be asked of her parents: How could they?

Featuring serious ethical conundrums, a unique sibling dynamic and a dramatic revelation or two, this is an irresistible and moving story of an extraordinary family. [Small font]



Most the group did not enjoy this book and found that it was trying to be informative and tell a story but lost its way a bit in both. The book causes reflection on how humans create such close relationships with animals and view them as part of our families.
AUCK 037
This book was not widely enjoyed - most felt that the basic premise of Rosemary's relationship with Fern up to age 5, and the subsequent separation, was not particularly believable. Some amusing moments, but overall not a great read!
NEWP 013
Cleverly structured. Some found the concepts quite disturbing, it had a nasty side. We were interested to find out that these animal experiments were a fact. Prompted a lot of discussion re family dynamics, and the damage poor parenting does to children.
AUCK 364
We loved the surprise element in this book - not knowing what happened to the sister til part-way through the story. Some struggled with the changing backward and forward between past and present, and would have liked to know more about the life of the brother.
AUCK 016
Thought-provoking. Well-written - raised questions of science and our humanity.
Slow to start with, but good once it gets going.
We loved this book - great discussions came from it.
Varying opinion between members, regarding subject and style of writing.
Most of the group enjoyed the book, found the characters and character development intriguing and raised interesting discussion around early child development. Many were surprised at the level of testing with animals and the ethics around this. The story didn't always flow easily and together with the unpredictable characters made it a reasonably challenging but very worthwhile read.
We really enjoyed the anthropological aspects of the book, and the teachers in the group found the child development themes fascinating. We thought the writing style was engaging and witty making the book very readable. Some found the themes of scientific experiments on animals to be disturbing and this interfered with their enjoyment of the book. The notes need to have a spoiler alert as they give away the truth about Fern that is not revealed at the start of the book.
CHCH 092
Fabulous book. Well written and very clever. Good discussion on the ethics of integrating with animals. Best book so far this year.
WELL 018
Our group all really liked the book. It was unusual, and the main character so like a real person. We were surprised at the reveal.
AUCK 134
'Unexpected and challenging', 'the structure of the book is extremely clever and leads to surprises', 'a bit hard to get into, but stick with it, it's a great book'.
TAUR 016
A very good book. The style of writing was engaging and intriguing as were the characters. The structure of the book, (how the plot unravelled) was very successful. The theme of cruelty to animals in the name of science was important throughout; alongside the effect on a family. This was arguably the MOST interesting theme, and punctuated a very good discussion.
An engrossing novel, powered by the writer's passion for the subject matter. The mixed chronological order in which the story was told added to the tension. The ideas generated a great deal of discussion.
The group had mixed feelings about the subject, but the discussion generated was thoroughly enjoyable - on ethical testing, science, animal welfare etc. All thought it was a well-written book and that the discussion questions were excellent. One of the best group discussions of this year.
AUCK 174
We all read it, but were a little "under-whelmed". Pretty much a reflection of the ideas of the times. The views of animal experimentation/exploitation by the majority have changed a lot in the last 40 years or so. It did lead to a fair amount of good discussion about these changes.
The book elicited polar responses from group. A number felt the pace was 'frenetic' and 'difficult to get into'. Several thoroughly enjoyed the writer's style, the whimsical tone and the opportunity to reflect on the impact of such an upbringing on a young child's development. Tough issues were tackled with respect to experimentation on animals and some found this subject matter very confronting.
CHCH 446
Most of the group felt that the story didn't flow well and was a bit disjointed. Consequently some found it difficult to get into especially with the plot twist not being revealed for some time. The whole topic of ethical treatment of animals and experimentation prompted considerable discussion. Interestingly one member who had read the story previously enjoyed it more the second time around. It is a fascinating area, and highly emotive.