We Are Not Ourselves

We Are Not Ourselves

Book - 2014
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"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. Eileen can't help but dream of a calmer life, in a better neighborhood. 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 powerfully 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 is a testament to our greatest desires and our greatest frailties."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2014
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476756660
Characteristics: 620 p. ; 25 cm


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List - Family dramas
HCL_fiction Apr 19, 2016

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Mar 07, 2018

Depressing, slow, and uninteresting

Manateestarz Nov 27, 2017

A lovely, well-written book that really gets at the heart of a character. The author really brings the reader into the Eileen's mind and creates a well-rounded character with all the strengths and flaws of a real person. For example, Eileen suffers from prejudice and some snap judgments about people who are from "other" groups , but is also capable of immense intelligence and compassion.
Her husband's life starts out great, but he will later strain all of Eileen's compassion.

You would not think that it would be possible to make everyday suburban life so compelling, but Matthew Thomas does just that.
Also, I think that the name of the character "Connell" is an inside joke, a nod to the name of a fellow writer.

Mar 14, 2017

Warning: Very wordy book about Alzheimer's.
The backstory is waay too long.
The cover does not warn you how depressing the book is, or what it is about.
If you watch the movie "Still Alice" that is quite enough for most people.

Feb 11, 2017

Well worth a read, if you want to learn about how Alzheimer's Disease could affect all members of a family. I especially enjoyed the author's portrayal of a principled man's struggle against his inevitable decline.

Sep 14, 2016

Where as others found this book too slow, I found it a page turner. Matthew Thomas' book explores the themes of love, loss, what it means to be a family, and how ultimately we all struggle both internally and externally. The most compelling thing to me was his ability to capture and detail the minds of his protagonists: the compassion and striving we manifest, and the pettiness we are each capable of.

Perhaps this book resonates more with people who have struggled with the loss of a loved one to brain disease, or to those who are older and experienced the way life can put an end to dreams, but peace can still be found.

Jul 01, 2016

At first the story dragged and I wondered where it was leading but once it got onto the early Alzheimer's symptoms it became more and more interesting. Many of the symptoms relate to my experiences in our family and I recognized them before they were acknowledged in the story, so I knew where it was going. The characters are well formed though I still can't sympathize with Eileen insisting on buying a house with so many problems when she must have realized she wasn't going to get any help from her husband to do the repairs and maintenance. That part of her character, to me, was unbelievable. I also thought the book would have worked better as two stories - one about Irish immigrants and the second about early onset Alzheimer's.

Jun 01, 2016

A heartbreaking, if a tad long at 500+ pages, account of a family devastated by early onset Alzheimer's. The reason this book is so long is because it's trying to be two books at once--a story about a family struggling with early onset Alzheimer's, and a cultural history of Irish immigrants in New York. I think Matthew Thomas should have pared down the Irish immigrant backstory to spare my arms (this is a heavy book!), but if Thomas wanted to have both elements in the story, I can't fault him for that. Lastly, I love the King Lear connection in the title.

Oct 03, 2015

A tragic story that ends in hope makes compelling reading. Thomas’ debut 610 page novel tells a story that could happen to anyone. What happens when your spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his 50’s. How do you explain his bizarre behaviors to your high school aged son? How does cope with Dad who mentally and emotionally is no longer dad? How do you cope with the financial burden, how does your life continue? Lawyers suggest divorce so that Medicaid will help, but emotionally how can do you that. How do you handle working a full-time job and coming home to nurse your spouse, and how do you keep your heart from breaking when he’s moved to a nursing home. Beautifully written, this story will stay with the reader long after the book has been read.

Sep 19, 2015

The pace of this book is somewhat slow. But hang in there. The last hundred pages pack an emotional wallop. An incredible depiction of the different stages of Alzheimer's and the effect on families.
This book was a trip down memory lane. I grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens and even went to the same elementary school! Matthew Thomas paints an accurate portrait of the Irish-Catholic milieu of New York City.

rere3 Aug 20, 2015

I kept thinking of Alice McDermott as I read this book and then I learned he was one of her students. Well, Mr. Thomas you did learn well.
Very evocative and presents a real family--you know folks like these. Worth the read

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