WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew ThomasWe Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
Published by Simon & Schuster on August 19th 2014
Pages: 640
Length: 20 hrs, 51 mins
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, General, Literary, Sagas
eARC provided by Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

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Destined to be a classic, this “powerfully moving” (Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding), multigenerational debut novel of an Irish-American family is nothing short of a “masterwork” (Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End).

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed. When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away.

Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.

I just finished this book. We Are Not Ourselves was such a delight, I am not sure how I can continue on without these characters. It was so good. Good. Good.

This story is primarily about Eileen. Eileen is being raised by alcoholic immigrants in Queens, New York. Her childhood is tough as she is primarily a caretaker to her mother. When she meets Ed, a scientist, she falls in love, gets married and has a child. She wants more out of life, and he seems content to teach for lower pay then he would get if he were more motivated. As a hard working nurse, Eileen wants a big house, a nice car and a better neighborhood. They start off in an apt in Jackson Heights. As time passes, they are finally able to afford the home of Eileen’s dreams. That is where everything starts to fall apart for the family.

I am really sorry I can’t give more of a synopsis. To tell you more would be to give away the story. This book will probably not be received by you the same way as me anyways. This story was more an epic about a family, but it really could be about anyone. The things we are willing to settle for to keep it together. The way a career can take over. The face you put on when you are losing the things you love most. The legacy that we hope to leave behind when we are gone.

This is a debut novel, but it feels like it was written by an old hand. At no point did the pacing feel off for me, it was written without feeling hurried along. It is entirely in third person, but the subjects fluctuate a bit. I got a few different perspectives. I am not gonna lie or sugar coat this. This was a long story, 620 pages and this book spans almost whole lifetime. It is brutally honest.  This book was not sparing in the important details that made me feel as if I was right there. I got to see, smell, feel, and taste what the characters do. These are not perfect people, and their thoughts betray their motivations. We Are Not Ourselves had so many good feels. I grew very attached to each person, without even realizing it. So seeing them struggle, I cried a lot. A lot. Like I am still weepy now and I have headache from crying so hard. This book broke my heart and then it gave me hope again.

This was an excellent work of fiction. If you enjoy a good story about real life and family, you should definitely check this out.

My Rating


About the Author

Matthew Thomas was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he has an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His New York Times-bestselling novel WE ARE NOT OURSELVES has been shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, long listed for the Guardian First Book Award, nominated for the Folio Prize, and named a New York Times Notable Book. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey.

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I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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