Writer, author, memoir teacher. I write about the connections we find by giving each other the time and space to be heard.

Her Sister Was a Chimp

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Told from the point of view of a woman who was raised alongside a chimpanzee, as an experiment, this novel raises big questions about human treatment of animals, especially in medical and psychological research. Karen Joy Fowler’s name has been on my radar for years, but this was the first book of hers I read, and I will be reading everything else she has written. I was completely taken by the beauty and emotional power of her metaphors – “bad mood walking,” “the whole of the Internet laid out before me like a Candy Land board,” and “the government can’t be wrong about everything; even a stopped clock, etc.”, so much that I stopped to read them aloud to my husband. She had me laughing to myself and feeling very sad many times as I read this novel, and I read it slowly, savoring the story, the words and the strong poignant voice of Rosemary Cooke, protagonist and sister to a chimp named Fern.
This novel is about love, family dynamics, politics, what we do when we don’t want to face the truth and what happens to us when we do. Fabulous.

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