Book about chimpanzee deemed essential reading for Seattle

Remember the "If All Seattle Read the Same Book" program that Nancy Pearl started almost twenty years ago? Did you know it's still going on? It's true! Only a few years ago, Seattle Public Library changed the title of the program from Nancy Pearl's super-cool name to the much-less-compelling "Seattle Reads." It's still basically the same idea: SPL has a ton of copies of one book, and the author appears at library branches all around town to talk about the book. Why did they change the name to something passive and un-catchy? I dunno.

Anyway, SPL announced this year's Seattle Reads choice on Friday afternoon, when nobody was paying attention. Here it is:

“We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” is about a middle-class American family, ordinary in every way except one: Mother and Dad (psychologists), brother Lowell, sisters Fern and Rosemary. The narrator, 18-year-old Rose, begins her story in the middle for a reason: “I was raised with a chimpanzee," she explains. "I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister. As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.”

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel written by Karen Joy Fowler, who is an excellent novelist. Fowler will be in town from May 20th through the 22nd. You should read the book and attend an events. If it helps, pretend the program is still called "If All Seattle Read the Same Book." Because that really is a better name.