Language does this to our memories--simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is the perfect book for a book club. It raises question about our society, how we see animals and how we treat them, family, and ethics. It's prefect for discussion. It's clever and insightful. Funny at times, yes. A good read.
But it made me feel absolutely nothing.
Which most likely is due to my own views on certain themes in this story. All it did was remind me of an assignment my sister once had where they had to write a paper about whether a monkey should have human rights or not. When she first told me about it I laughed out loud. For a while, I have to admit. It sounded ridiculous. Not that we should treat animals with kindness, but I kept thinking that we have animal rights (not all over the world, but where I live). And yes, I believe there should be a distinct line drawn between human rights and animal rights. Which, more or less is what this book resolves around. What differs us humans from animal? How great are the differences?
It's also about family. About Rosemary, Fern, and Lowell. This part was easier to relate to, if you eliminated the big surprise element. If we're focusing solely on the family aspect, it's a story one can relate to. We're shown several characters who could use therapy (for a long time). Rosemary and Lowell the most, but also Rosemary's friend Harlow. They are interesting characters but Rosemary's narrative brings the story down.
The narrative is meant to show off Rosemary's unstable mind, but some of the choices of structure and style were constant frustrations while reading. The writing gets choppy and pretentious for a great part of the story, causing me to almost not finish this book. As said, the narrative is meant to show off the unstable mind of Rosemary, but it doesn't quite come across the way it was intended, unfortunately.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is, for all purposes and intents, an interesting story that raises certain questions that should (and are) discussed today. At the same time, while doing this it loses some of its ability to connect the reader to the characters, making it seem more like a chore to read than reading for the interest of the characters and story.