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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Review: When God was a Rabbit

Author: Sarah Winman

Release date: Paperback 12th May 2011
Genre: Modern Fiction? Literary Fiction?
Target audience: Adult
UK Publisher: Headline

Review:

When God was a Rabbit is a story of a brother and a sister; it is a story of friendship, love, loss and that intangible old thing: time.

Elly is the narrator of the story and it is told in two parts. The first part is her journey through childhood and the second part is her journey through adulthood. Trying to put into words what this book is about without giving the plot away is really hard. Elly as a child has a unique relationship with her brother Joe. They grow up in an adorable family which is full of love and eccentric characters. But they are bound by a secret that locks Elly into a character which becomes timeless. She is both a whimsical child and an aged philosopher. It is a rather strange combination and I honestly couldn’t work out at times how old she was meant to be. At the very beginning of the book I couldn’t even work out if she was a boy or a girl and I think this is deliberate. She exists beyond the boundaries of “normal” and so cannot be so simply defined by a label of gender or age.

Suffice to say that growing up; both Elly and Joe carry the weight of burden on their young shoulders. They have a deep bond which was a delight to read. In fact I really felt that this was a book not to be rushed. I needed time to digest in my mind and clarify what the author was trying to portray through the characters. Even if this was very much open to interpretation.

Elly’s comfort from the agonising secret lies in her friend Jenny Penny. To Elly, she is the embodiment of a miracle - a girl of her own age who understands her. They embark on adventures together and they find solace in their togetherness. Jenny’s mother is a troubled soul who really needs a mother to care for her. Jenny longs to be part of Elly’s family. One of the things that I loved about Elly was her welcoming of Jenny into her family. She was happy to share them and didn’t feel any jealousy when Jenny was shown love. Elly knowing that she is different is just happy to know that she is not alone in her difference.

There were times reading this book when I felt so comfortable that I could have been listening to a lullaby. There were other times where I just sat motionless with the shock of what was revealed as I turned the page. There were times when I lost all hope and thought this book was full of tragedy. In the end I think that the book is about faith. We need faith to love and not live a life apart from others. We need faith that we belong in this world. We need faith in ourselves to conquer our demons and live free from fear. Above all we need faith that we are all essentially good.

When God was a Rabbit is a whimsical novel of childhood and yet also a book about the dark places that live inside us. It is about friendship and how together we can make those dark places recede and the light places shine. It is beautiful and thought-provoking and highly accessible.

You may have heard about the new Tesco Book Blog. Well in a way I came to review this book through a new venture for them but actually this is my own copy of the book which was a gift from my boss in the summer. I made that sound complicated... anyway... here is a link to the book on the Tesco online thingy: http://www.tesco.com/tescobooks/when-god-was-a-rabbit/G3N-9J2Y.prd?skuId=G3N-9J2Y&pageLevel=sku

Thanks for all the lovely comments you've left on this review. I never realised people following me were interested in adult literary type fiction. You're all full of surprises!

5 comments:

Rosalind Adam said...

I loved this book. I was totally captivated by their relationship and how that affected the way they coped with the rest of their lives. When I finished it I started handing it round to friends. I wanted to share the enjoyment but some have returned it saying that they were disappointed. I suppose it wouldn't be good if we all loved the same thing.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wonderful review, Becky! I've been deciding whether to consider reading this book or not for a very long time. But after reading YOUR review, I am finally decided: I want to read. I'll add it on my wishlist.

I think you did a great job at describing this book without giving too much away.

Vivienne said...

Beautiful review Becky. I look forward to reading this one.

SisterSpooky said...

totally agree with this review. you flip around from softness and harsh reality and you love it all.

StephTheBookworm said...

I've been hemming and hawing about reading this one for awhile, not sure if I wanted to or not. After reading your review, I think I have decided yes! :)