The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler for the July book selection. From the 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."
The Miami Herald says "this brave, bold, shattering novel reminds us what it means to be human, in the best and worst sense."
Rosemary recounts many memories of the chimpanzee Fern and their brief life together. How were she and Fern, in the language of the novel, "Same" and "NotSame"? What does their relationship suggest about the compatibility of humans and primates? How are humans different from other animals?
How did being co-raised with a chimpanzee impact Rosemary's development? In what ways was she different from other, "normal" children? How does she still differ from them to this day?
Consider Rosemary's father and mother. Are they good parents? Should they have handled Fern's leaving any differently? If so, how?
What is your opinion of Rosemary's brother, Lowell Cooke? Are his extreme views and actions at all justified? Does he truly have Fern's well-being at heart?
Think about the significance of memory and storytelling in the novel. How is Rosemary's memory--and consequently, her narrative--affected by the emotional trauma she has experienced?
Do you think that Rosemary comes to find peace with her family history by the end of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves?
Is animal experimentation ever justified? If so, under what circumstances?
Let us know what you think of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.
Welcome to the KPL Book Club Blogspot
Welcome to the internet home of the Kilbourn Public Library (KPL) Book Club. The KPL Book Club meets at the library once a month. A book is chosen for each month and then members of the book club meet the last Monday and Wednesday of every month for lively discussion and treats. While we can’t offer you treats via the internet, this KPL Reads blog was designed for those of you who would like to participate in the book club but don’t have time to join us at meetings. Each month KPL staff will post discussion topics and questions to get you “talking”. Join in the discussion by adding a post to the blog. Click on the word comments below the post you want to "talk" about and write your comment. Be sure to check back often to see feedback and comments.