Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman

 Publishing Info:

Title - When God Was A Rabbit
Author - Sarah Winman
Publisher - Bloomsbuy USA
Date Published -  2011
# of pages - 304


This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms.
In a remarkably honest and confident voice, Sarah Winman has written the story of a memorable young heroine, Elly, and her loss of innocence-a magical portrait of growing up and the pull and power of family ties. From Essex and Cornwall to the streets of New York, from 1968 to the events of 9/11, When God Was a Rabbit follows the evolving bond of love and secrets between Elly and her brother Joe, and her increasing concern for an unusual best friend, Jenny Penny, who has secrets of her own. With its wit and humor, engaging characters whose eccentricities are adroitly and sometimes darkly drawn, and its themes of memory and identity, When God Was a Rabbit is a love letter to true friendship and fraternal love.

Funny, utterly compelling, fully of sparkle, and poignant, too, When God Was a Rabbit heralds the start of a remarkable new literary career.


I liked this book. I felt like I could have loved it, but in the end it was just okay.

There were so many things that were great about the story. Elly who defines her life by the people who have surrounded her, recounts pieces of her life that make her who she is. Her brother, her mother and father, the childhood friend her parents took her away from when she moved, and those aldults that she met in her life and were both mentors and friends. I didn't understand at first what all these random events were supposed to mean, but in the end, I think I got it.

At least for me, it meant how we can be so focused on others and wanting them to see you for who you are, on a deeper level. How beautiful and how sad at the same time that wanting can be. I thought Elly's story was sad because I could tell how much she wanted to be loved by others, to be a part of their lives, but she spent so much time doing so and forgetting to carve out a piece of life for herself, because she couldn't seem to move on from her past. It was something so relatable.

In this way, I would say that the second half of the book is much better than the first half. There seems to be a purpose to the story in the second half whereas the rest of the book seems like a bunch of jumbled randomness, not helped by the fact that the author spans the story across Elly's entire childhood, rarely indicating how old she is at any moment in time. I found it confusing and hard to picture the events. One chapter would flow into another and it was only after some careful thinking that I would realise months or even years had gone by.

I found this frustrating and think the author was trying to be too clever with revealing things. There are certain key moments in the book and we never find out until the last third of the book how old she is at those times. It wasn't just the ages that frustrated me either. The author does the same thing with things like phone calls, meetings, thinking about people. She always seemed to want to reveal who Elly was talking about half way through her narration. It made what was otherwise a well written, interesting story, confusing and frustrating.

Overall, I think this is a good book. I liked the pace of the writing, I liked the characters and plot, but I did have issues with a few things like I mentioned above.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway contest and was sent a free copy from the publisher. No review was required in exchange for the book.

You can buy  When God Was A Rabbit in Kindle , paperback, and hardcover formats from Amazon. 
You can check out more reviews or add it to your Goodreads list.
** I am reviewing this book for the tbr-reading-challenge.

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