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Extended Audio Sample We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.25 out of 53.25 out of 53.25 out of 53.25 out of 53.25 out of 5 3.25 (4 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Joy Fowler Narrator: Orlagh Cassid Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the New York Times–bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club, the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel.

Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, “Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.

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Quotes & Awards

  • We Are All Completely beside Ourselves is a dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but. This novel is deliciously jaunty in tone and disturbing in material. Karen Joy Fowler tells the story of how one animal—the animal of man—can simultaneously destroy and expand our notion of what is possible.”

    Alice Sebold, New York Times bestselling author

  • “In this curious, wonderfully intelligent novel, Karen Joy Fowler brings to life a most unusual family. Wonderful Fern, wonderful Rosemary! Through them we feel what it means to be a human animal.”

    Andrea Barrett, Pulitzer Prize winning author

  • “A novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get…[Its] fresh direction and madcap plot bend the tone toward comedy, but it never mislays its solemn raison d’être. Monkeyshines aside, this is a story of Everyfamily.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Unsettling, emotionally complex.”

    Washington Post

  • “Fowler has given us the gift of a splendid novel. Not only is the story fascinating, moving, and beautifully written, but it also ripples with humor.”

    Boston Globe

  • “The heart of the novel—and it has a big, warm, loudly beating heart throughout—is in its gradually pieced-together tale of family togetherness, disruption, and reconciliation. We Are All Completely beside Ourselves is Fowler at her best…Utterly captivating.”

    Seattle Times

  • “By the time you get to the last section of the novel, which is absolutely sublime…you will feel as though Rosemary and Fern are your own siblings.”

    NPR, All Things Considered

  • “Achingly memorable…This brave, bold, shattering novel reminds us what it means to be human, in the best and worst sense.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Fowler’s novel is superb.”

    NPR’s Fresh Air

  • “Piquant humor, refulgent language, a canny plot rooted in real-life experiences, an irresistible narrator, threshing insights, and tender emotions—Fowler has outdone herself in this deeply inquisitive, cage-rattling novel.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Rosemary’s voice—vulnerable, angry, shockingly honest—is so compelling and the cast of characters, including Fern, irresistible.  A fantastic novel: technically and intellectually complex, while emotionally gripping.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Rosemary’s experience [is] a fascinating basis for insight into memory, the mind, and human development…Fowler’s great accomplishment is not just that she takes the standard story of a family and makes it larger, but that the new space she’s created demands exploration.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Karen Joy Fowler has written the book she’s always had in her to write. With all the quiet strangeness of her amazing Sarah Canary, and all the breezy wit and skill of her beloved Jane Austen Book Club, and a new, urgent gravity, she has told the story of an American family…This is a strong, deep, sweet novel.”

    Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning author of Lavinia

  • “You know how people say something is incredible or unbelievable when they mean it’s excellent? Well, Karen Joy Fowler’s new book is excellent: utterly believable and completely credible—a funny, moving, entertaining novel that is also an important and unblinking review of a shameful chapter in the history of science.”

    Dr. Mary Doria Russell, biological anthropologist and author of The Sparrow and Doc

  • “It’s been years since I’ve felt so passionate about a book. When I finished at three a.m., I wept, then I woke up the next morning, reread the ending, and cried all over again.”

    Ruth Ozeki, award–winning author of All Over Creation

  • “It really is impossible to do justice here in a blurb. This is a funny, stingingly smart, and heartbreaking book. Among other things, it’s about love, family, loss, and secrets; the acquisition and the loss of language. It’s also about two sisters, Rosemary and Fern, who are unlike any other sisters you’ve ever met before.”

    Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen and Pretty Monsters

  • “This unforgettable novel is a dark and beautiful journey into the heart of a family, an exploration of the meanings of memory, a study of what it means to be ‘human.’ In the end the book doesn’t just break your heart; it takes your heart and won’t give it back.”

    Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply and Stay Awake

  • A Booklist Top 10 in June 2013
  • Selected for the June 2013 Indie Next List
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2013
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A BookPage Best Book of 2013
  • A 2013 Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2013 for Fiction
  • Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize
  • A 2013 Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel
  • Winner of the 2014 California Gold Medal for Literature
  • A 2014 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalist
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