We Are Not Ourselves (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

“Destined to be a classic” is what I have heard most often about this novel and I certainly agree. Matthew Thomas is a powerful new voice in literature. He paints a deeply moving picture of Eileen Tumulty raised in an Irish family and dreaming of a better life for herself. Though there are serious problems in her family there is never any doubt that Eileen loves her parents and that is the same feeling and maturity of strength she brings to her marriage. When she meets Ed Leary, a research scientist, she believes he is the kind of person who will give her the life she wants. As reality sets in, we see Eileen’s disappointment but never a change in her commitment and we come to see that though they are very different, with different ideas of life, they are truly committed to each other. As life deals them sadness and tragedy, Eileen brings strength of character that will enable her to live out the love she shares with Edmund. The result is a powerful, strong piece of contemporary literature.

— From Rita's Picks


The instant New York Times bestseller The Washington Post calls a "stunning...superbly rendered" novel, and Entertainment Weekly describes as "a gripping family saga, maybe the best...since The Corrections."

As an Irish immigrant in Queens in 1941, Eileen has dreamed of more in her life--but when she and her family seem to be moving closer to that dream, devastation hits and they must learn how to not only hold on to their reality, but to each other.

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 how much alcohol has been consumed. From an early age, Eileen wished that she lived somewhere else. She sets her sights on upper class Bronxville, New York, and an American Dream is born.

Driven by this longing, Eileen places her stock and love in Ed Leary, a handsome young scientist, and with him begins a family. Over the years Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house. It slowly becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper, more incomprehensive 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.

Described by The New York Times Book Review as "A long, gorgeous epic, full of love and caring...one of the best novels you'll read this year," We Are Not Ourselves is a testament to our greatest desires and our greatest frailties. Through the lives of these characters, Thomas charts the story of the American Century. The result is, "stunning...The joys of this book are the joys of any classic work of literature--for that is what this is destined to become--superbly rendered small moments that capture both an individual life and the universality of that person's experience" (The Washington Post).

About the 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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781476756677
ISBN-10: 1476756678
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015
Pages: 656
Language: English