At the very beginning of the book, we learn that Rosemary (the 'I' of the book) has an older brother and sister and that both of them have disappeared. Immediately, our attention is caught: What happened? Where are they? Why has Rosemary been left on her own?
The book does not follow any chronological plan but, instead, begins somewhere around the middle, dives back to somewhere near the beginning, weaves its way towards the end and then, once again, swings back to the beginning, before finally catching all the threads and tying them together. This hopping between different time periods is handled skilfully and does not impact negatively on the story; in fact, it simply emphasizes the suspense.
This is a family where the father, a psychologist, uses his children as research objects; he is not a wicked man, and yet his too-narrow focus ends up having disastrous results on all those around him. Fowler (whose own father was a psychologist) draws on her experience, her extensive reading and her imagination to create complicated situations with, in many cases, a variety of conflicting ethical, moral and social perspectives.
The photo of Karen Joy Fowler is from www.wheelercentre.com
Wonderfully researched and beautifully written - We are all completely beside ourselves was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 - it is an intelligent, well planned book. In parts it is humorous; in others it is deeply moving. It sheds much light on both our humanity and our inhumanity and leaves us wondering what it actually means to be human.