Monday, September 30, 2013

Mirrors and Siblings and Science and Love

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
(Penguin Audio, 2013)
Format: audio CDs via library (narrated by Orlagh Cassidy)

From Goodreads: "Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined."

I enjoy Fowler's other books, but this, I felt burrow its way into my heart. Things I grooved on: sibling relationships, especially the ways Rose is constantly jealous of hers while simultaneously longing to be a part of them while simultaneously bonding with one and excluding the other; parental action/inaction and the ways adult Rose learns to reinterpret what child Rose experienced; the constant reinterpretation Rose had to do of her childhood experiences, and how each was momentous in both interpretations, and each interpretation informed the other; mirrors and language and body language and invisible friends and speaking for the silent and letting the silent speak for you.

(And speaking of letting people speak for you, how's this for a segue?) Orlagh Cassidy is a truly lovely narrator for this novel. I could see Rose's expressions in Cassidy's intonations, and was wrapped tightly in Rose's emotions as she began to see her childhood through her adult lens. I love the voice she gave to Rose.

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