We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Karen Joy Fowler

This tale of family dynamics begins with comic undertones which are jolted by a shift in perception a quarter of the way in. The silence, self-delusion and guilt of family life find echoes in dysfunctional relationships between humans and animals. Inspired by real-life experiments in the 1930s, this book explores issues of ethics, nature/nurture and animal rights - lots for reading groups to discuss, but could be distressing for some readers.

Extract

I would think better of myself now if, like Lowell, I’d been angry about Fern’s disappearance, but it seemed too dangerous just then to be mad at our parents and I was frightened instead. There was also a part of me relieved, and powerfully, shamefully so, to be the one kept and not the one given away. Whenever I remember this, I try also to remember that I was only five years old. I’d like to be fair here, even to myself. It would be nice to get all the way to forgiveness, though I haven’t managed it yet and don’t know that I ever will. Or ever should.

Parallels
  • Ape House by Sara Gruen
  • When the Killings Done by T C Boyle