We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

We-Are-Not-OurselvesI received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley for review consideration

Eileen Tumulty did not have an easy life growing up. She was raised in the 1940s by working class Irish immigrant parents. In most cases, Eileen had to take care of her parents, but Eileen was adamant on making a better life for herself.  She met Ed Leary, a scientist and was convinced that with his station in life, she found the perfect partner with whom she can live her American Dream.

Ed Leary is an intelligent man, but Eileen soon realizes that Ed does not share the same aspirations as she does. He gets various opportunities for better jobs, yet he turns them down each and every time as he chose to rather spend his time on research and working as a college professor. Eileen continues to pursue better opportunities for herself, her husband and her son Connell. When Eileen decides to move out of her neighborhood, Ed was adamant that he does NOT want to move.  Soon Eileen noticed a change in Ed, he was easily confused, very adamant about his routine and resistance to change and an overall increase in his stubborn personality.   It soon transpired that this change in Ed could be attributed to an illness, a psychological disorder that would soon change their family life dramatically.

We Are Not Ourselves is a story about family that are very character driven.  Eileen was a flawed character in so many ways. She was very particular about the way she wanted to live her life, but she was also very judgmental and intolerable against other cultures and people.  It was one of the main reasons why she wanted to move to a better neighborhood. That is one aspect of her personality that really made me not like her that much.  Her relationship with her parents also had an impact on her relationship with her son, Connell. She was hard on him at times and constantly tried to push him into a direction that sometimes seemed he didn’t want.

Connell’s story plays a large role in the novel too, but mostly Ed’s story is being told
from Eileen and Connell’s experiences. His and his family’s struggle with his illness are described in heartbreaking detail.  Although Ed’s illness and the way it changes the family dynamics is the main story in We Are Not Ourselves, his story from his own perspective are never addressed in the novel.  Even though that would have been an added bonus, We Are Not Ourselves still remains an emotional read and beautifully written novel.  This lengthy novel is slow moving at times, but the overall story is worth the read. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys family sagas and especially if you enjoyed Elizabeth is Missing.

Have you read this novel? What did you think of it?

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  • Ciska van der Lans

    I did not like Eileen that much either. She seems very cold. But the book is beautifully written indeed.

  • I’ve seen this book pop up in quite a few places. It sounds like an interesting book. I will check it out, especially since I liked Elizabeth Is Missing. Thanks for the review.

  • I haven’t read this. Yet. It’s sitting on my tbr pile right now. Sadly it’s among 1000 other books. I do hope to get to it soon!

  • kerri

    I have gotten through maybe 1/3 of the book, but I keep putting it down. I just can’t force myself to keep going. Not liking Eileen much is the problem I think. I was so glad to read your review, since so many others are reaving about it- I thought maybe it was just me. Great review!

    • Thank you, Kerri. I hope you will give it another chance. Maybe it’s just too slow-moving for you? I think maybe you can read another book, but then read this one bit by bit in between?

  • Mary

    This has been on my radar for a while but I’m still on the fence about reading it. Your mention of the beautiful writing may sway my decision. Nice review.

    • I think you should give this a try when you have a chance, but I totally understand about being on the fence. I’m sure there are other books you’d want to read first. However, this is a nice family saga. Who knows, you might enjoy it!

  • JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    I loved We Are Not Oourselves and am sure it will end up being one of my favorite books this year! Sounds like I should read Elizabeth is Missing.

    • Wow, favourite this year! I can understand why. Elizabeth is Missing deals with a woman who has dementia (if you want you can find my review here). Similar illness and same heartbreaking story!

  • Jennine G.

    It must’ve been archived! I had gone to NetGalley looking for it. Thanks for the review reminding me to look it up soon!

    • When I typed in my feedback I noticed it’s an archived item! I’m pretty sure one of the ladies would love to lend it to you if you can’t find a library copy soon 🙂

  • Melinda, Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book. I’ve read other positive reviews. I’m going to check my To Read list. I think it is on my list.

  • I’m having such a hard time sinking into this one! I shall endure.

    • To be honest, I’ve read this over a few weeks. It is definitely not a quick read, but the story remains interesting. I hope you can finish it.

  • Enid Matthews

    Sounds like a interesting read….I first have a pile of books to get through before adding more, so I’m keeping this book filed for later….

  • Lisa Sheppard

    I’m definitely going to be looking to pick this one up.