Reviews for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

AudioFile Reviews 2013 June
Karen Joy Fowler (THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB) casts a clear-eyed look at the traumatic results of an innocent, if misguided, undertaking. In a time when cross-species fostering is encouraged to chart the effects on both animal and human children, the Cooke family adopts a baby chimpanzee, intended to grow up alongside their children. Orlagh Cassidy makes it clear that human siblings Rosemary and Lowell consider the chimp, Fern, their sister, not just a medical experiment. Cassidy delivers the complex sibling rivalry between Fern and Rosemary with genuine understanding. Later, as Rosemary uncovers repressed memories, particularly about Fern, who disappeared when Rosemary was 5, the causes of their mother's subsequent depression and their father's alcoholism, as well as Lowell's animal rights activism, become clear. Cassidy's performance offers an electric combination of understatement and highly charged emotions. Powerful listening. S.J.H. (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

Library Journal Reviews 2013 October #2

Fowler's (What I Didn't See) engrossing new novel opens with Rosemary Cooke announcing she will be starting her story in the middle. With brother Lowell and sister Fern mysteriously gone, Rosemary is the only remaining child of an alcoholic researcher father and a mother left fragile by the loss of her other two children. Eventually, Rosemary reveals that Fern is a chimpanzee, raised in tandem with her as part of their father's research. Despite this sensational fact, Rosemary's narration keeps listeners grounded in convincing details of her sibling relationship with Fern. Through the stories of the three "children," Fowler examines some very difficult issues with sensitivity and balance. The exploration of ethical and philosophical issues related to the relationships between humans and the animals we interact with and carry out research on flows organically through the characters and never feels tacked on or arbitrary. Orlagh Cassidy reads the audiobook skillfully and is pleasant to listen to, but her formal tone at times seems a bit out of step with Rosemary's more casual language. VERDICT This is an intellectually rewarding novel with a first-person point of view, making it particularly well suited to audio. ["Fowler explores the depths of human emotions and delivers a tragic love story that captures our hearts," read the starred review of the Marian Wood: Penguin hc, LJ 6/1/13.]--Heather Malcolm, Bow, WA

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