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Title: We Are Not Ourselves
Author: Matthew Thomas
Narrator: Mare Winningham
Unabridged Length: 20 h, 51 m
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio, 2014
Genres: Adult Fiction, Literary
Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program
About the Book: (from Goodreads.com)
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.
About 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 and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey.
About Narrator: Mary Megan "Mare" Winningham is an American actress and singer-songwriter. She is an Academy Award, Tony Award and eight-time Emmy Award nominee, winning Emmys in 1980 and 1998. Winningham began her acting career in the late 1970s on television.
My Review: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas is the story of Eileen and Ed a married couple and parents of Connell. Eileen and Ed seem like a typical couple, with their ups and down and hopes for a better future. As Eileen begins to look at homes in a new neighborhood in pursuit of the American Dream, the family is tested. Though I questioned Eileen’s feelings for Ed initially, once their relationship was tested, Eileen was there for Ed. Her life changes as it become evident that Ed’s condition will progress and not improve. Ed’s condition certainly tested their love for each other as well as his relationship with his son, Connell. The family is forces to learn what really matters most in life. I was touched by Eileen’s choices regarding Ed’s care and to maintain his dignity as long as possible.
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas in Audio Version is 18 CD’s long. In all honesty, the plot is doled out very slowly, which I struggled with. Had this not been a review book, I am not sure I would have finished We Are Not Ourselves. I was not initially invested in Eileen and Ed’s relationship, which makes it hard to continue a initially slow read. In retrospect, I am glad I finished the book as I really enjoyed the last half of the book.
My Rating: 3/5 – Having experienced the loss of a loved one to the same condition, many of the emotions in We Are Not Ourselves resonated with me. The decline of the person is a slow process that you try to tell yourself is not really happening. I think Matthew Thomas portrayed the feelings of loss, grief, guilty and love very well in the later half of the book. We Are Not Ourselves gives readers a good look into the life of a caregiver and how life can change in a moment.
My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing
**Disclosure – We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas was received from Simon and Schuster in exchange for a fair review.