Review of :
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by: Karen Joy Fowler
Before I write this review I just have two quick things to say.
- I don’t like the rating of books, or anything for that matter, based on a 1-5 system. I can never figure out which number would be the best. Should 5 only be reserved for books that you absolutely love and would read over and over again? I only have a hand full of books that I feel that way about. But then giving the book a 4 doesn’t seem fair sometimes because I’m not saying that I didn’t like it. I did. Then I can’t give a book a 1 because if it was that bad, I wouldn’t have made it to the end. In which case I cannot truly assess whether or not it is only deserving of a 1. Do you see how the system is flawed? I unfortunately have not come up with a better system. For me it will be more like this:
– Would you read this book again?
– Why would you read this book again?
– Does this book keep you engaged or do you find your mind wandering while reading?
– Did you enjoy how this book was written or did it anger you though out?
– Were the characters and the setting believable within the story line?
Those are the five questions that I think are (at the moment anyway) most important for me to answer/have answered when deciding whether or not to read a book. So I will write this review answering those questions for you.
- It was not my idea to read this book. I never would have picked this one up on my own. As previously stated I avoid the popular, top 5 list. Especially when it is something like The New York Times top 5. These books have a tendency to be sappy, or entirely too realistic, or self-help-esq. I joined a book club in my town and this is the book that they picked for the month. That being said I was horrified and pleasantly surprised all at once. Or at separate times actually. And the last 2 paragraphs did make me cry. Damn it! But don’t skip ahead!
So maybe I should add a 6th question
– why did you pick this book up? Because the reason that you start reading a book can taint your opinion of it.
Ok here goes;
I already told you why I picked this book up. I would like to add to that though. This is not the first book that I have picked up not of my own volition that in the end I enjoyed. This book reminded me of The Poisonwood Bible by: Barbara Kingsolver, which I picked up for similar reasons and have very similar feelings about even though they are hugely different books. (Holy run on batman)
I would read this book again. You must read this book more than once. Just like you must watch the movie “12 Monkey’s” more than once. Not because this book has anything to do with time travel or conspiracy theories. But because you are guaranteed to have missed something the first time around. And also not because I would give it 5 stars and it was so good that you just need to immerse yourself once again. Just the missing things reason.
Did this book keep me engaged?
Here is where this book lost points for me. A lot of the time it was very slow. Not so slow that you lose heart and stop reading. The chapters are very short and very different. You just have to struggle through a couple of pages. There were also parts where I was like, I don’t care. How could this possibly have anything to do with the plot? BUT…..Best first chapter!
How this book was written was my favorite part. If this book had been written in a normal order it would not have been as interesting to me. It was the constant cliff hangers. The “what is going to happen next?” paired with “what happened to make this happen?” questions that kept me flipping the pages. I feel that this author wrote the story much the way people think. We run off on tangents. Interesting, thought provoking tangents. Then we remember that we forgot something from the beginning of the story. I loved that!
The characters and setting were definitely believable. The only thing that seems strange to me is how different the main character’s memories are to what actually happened. I mean, I definitely grandiose my memories. But they are never completely different from the reality of the actual events. I see the point of concluding that she blocked things from her memory due to trauma. I’m just not sure that I believe that a person’s perceived reality can be so much different from the truth when talking about their personal feelings on a subject.
Ok, adding a 7th question. Would I recommend this book to others? Probably not. For me it was entertaining and thought provoking. However, there are so many good books out right now that I would rather be reading. This is not one of my favorite books for escapism. I do however enjoy a good thought provoker every now and then. Throw them in with the fluff. Keeps the mind sharp.