Review: We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley from the publisher in return for an honest review*
We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas
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.

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, where he received the Graduate Essay Award. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey.

The book tells both the stories of Eileen and her son Connell growing up.
I liked Eileen's story. The way she is dreaming about her future but keeping it real the same time. Understanding what might be within her reach but not giving up on thinking bigger. I do feel it brought her chances she would not have gotten otherwise. Though her action can be seen as bold at points most of them turn out well. I did have a big problem with her emotional development specially towards Connell. When just born she obviously loves him and at some point she does not know exactly what to do with him any more but there is never a clear turning point for me. I did not understand the why.
I appreciated Connell's part of the story too. Eileen is very much about not making the same mistakes her parents made with raising her and it is interesting to read how Connell experiences his life.
I really liked the approach in Ed's story, the emotions coming with a disease like his are all pointed out without disrespecting any of the reactions.
Still the book left me with an 'I am fine that it is over feeling' I am not sure why though. It was pretty lengthy with 640 pages... maybe a bit to much. It was slow in development and there was a distance from the emotional life from the characters for most of the part but I still felt connected in a way. I can only say I am not really sure what happened and am really curious how other people who read the book experienced it.

We Are Not Ourselves
Author: Matthew Thomas
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 640
Format: eArc
ISBN-10: 147675666X
ISBN-13: 9781476756660
Simon & Schuster: eBook | Hardcover | Audiobook
We Are Not Ourselves
3 stars

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Jennine G.
23 August, 2014 delete

Wow, I didn't realize this book was 600+ pages! I've been reading positives about it and am definitely interested in checking it out.

27 August, 2014 delete

I'm still in the beginning stages, but it's not the book, it's me. The fact that it's so lengthy isn't helping either, but I'm glad you liked it. I'll get going with it!