Jun 24

Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside OurselvesWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve always used the goodreads star rating:
5=it was amazing
4=really liked it
3=liked it
2=it was okay
1=did not like

Which means that I ruin the scale for all the books I review, because most people seem to use the following scale:
5=liked it
4=it was okay
3=it was boring and/or poorly written
2=it had huge flaws, and was barely readable.
1=I don’t like the author/disagree with the author’s opinion on a politicized subject

I sometimes feel guilty about all my average “liked it” star ratings in a world of grade inflation, and have thought about re-scaling all my books so that they all have 4 or 5 stars.

But then a book comes along like this, where it really was amazing, and I’m glad that I so rarely give out 5 stars, because then people can understand that 5 stars means that this book is really something special, and not merely good.

I can’t tell you too much about this book without spoiling things. It’s about memory and family dynamics. It’s about life at an American university in the 1990s, and about the politics of scientific research. It’s about a family in which to of the siblings are gone, and no one will talk about why.

I loved Fowler’s wry wit. I laughed out loud at how the family avoids unpleasant subjects at Thanksgiving. I laughed at Rosemary’s attempts to talk to people without their would be boy/girlfriend getting in the way. I loved the roommate dynamics. I especially loved that there were words in this novel that I hadn’t ever seen before and didn’t know the meaning of, as that rarely happens anymore.

I especially loved that it dealt with difficult, political topics without getting too heavy-handed or proselytizing. I liked that, despite the darkness of the subject, it managed a bittersweet ending.

I recommend this for people who like novels.

View all my reviews

1 comment

1 ping

    • Zargon on June 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I think XKCD has pegged how to read the 5-star rating system:

    http://xkcd.com/1098/

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