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Critical Praise

“Fowler’s interests here are in what sets humans apart from their fellow primates. Cognitive, language and memory skills all come into playful question. But 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, mixing cerebral and emotional appeal together in an utterly captivating manner.”

—The Seattle Times

“Rosemary’s voice is achingly memorable, and Fowler’s intelligent discourse on science vs. compassion reshapes the traditional family novel into something more universally relevant. The Cookes are unlike other families and like them at the same time, and through Rosemary’s unique perspective Fowler forces us to confront some tough truths. This brave, bold, shattering novel reminds us what it means to be human, in the best and worst sense.”

—The Miami Herald

“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 (starred review)

“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)

“A strong, unsettling novel…Fowler explores the depths of human emotions and delivers a tragic love story that captures our hearts.”

—Library Journal (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

“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, author of SERVANTS OF THE MAP and SHIP FEVER

“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. An unusual family --- but aren’t all families unusual? A very American, an only-in-America family --- and yet an everywhere family, whose children, parents, siblings, love one another very much, and damage one another badly. Does the love survive the damage? Will human beings survive the damage they do to the world they love so much? This is a strong, deep, sweet novel.”

—Ursula K. Le Guin, author of LAVINIA, THE UNREAL AND THE REAL and the Earthsea Cycle

“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 of THE LOVELY BONES and THE ALMOST MOON

“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 3am, I wept, then I woke up the next morning, reread the ending and cried all over again.” 


“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

“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.”