We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
(Simon & Schuster, 2014, 620 pages)
We Are Not Ourselves impressed me with how quickly I was drawn in to the story. Told over the span of many decades we are first introduced to Eileen Tumulty and her family. Eileen’s parents came to America from Ireland in the 1930s and have high hopes for their daughter. Eileen herself has high expectations for where she sees her life going. When she meets Ed Leary she knows she’s found the man for her and the man who can give her the life she’s dreamed of. Unfortunately, Eileen’s dreams of moving up in the world don’t mesh with Ed’s vision for his own life. Eileen wants status, Ed is content with their life as it is.
Thomas tells the story from the perspectives of all three members of the Leary family: Ed, Eileen, and their son Connell. But the book primarily revolves around Eileen – she’s the driving force behind the family and it’s her dreams she focuses on seeing fulfilled. Things start to shift when the family has to face an unexpected and life-altering event. Now Eileen’s goals for the future seem less feasible and less important.
This novel has great depth and you shouldn’t let it’s length deter you from picking it up. I thought it was incredibly well-written and while I occasionally had a hard time with Eileen (she’s not always the most likable character) I was always looking forward to finding time to pick up where I’d left off.