Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: When God Was a Rabbit

When God Was a RabbitWhen God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! Interestingly, I noticed that a few of my fellow Goodreads addicts have tagged it as YA. In publishing circles, like Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, When God Was a Rabbit is narrated by an adult looking back on her life rather than a teenager experiencing it in the moment. So for anyone who loves trivia, you can take that piece with you for all it's worth.

That said, When God Was a Rabbit is a magical coming-of-age story full of the kind of delicious dark humor that I adore. Sarah Winman lives in London, and proves, yet again, that the Brits have a way of getting the funny yet twisted just right.

We follow Elly through her childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Elly is a very bright, perceptive and sensitive girl who feels a strong connection with the silence that hangs between pieces of conversation and living things that other people can't seem to hear. She gets a rabbit for Christmas one year and names him god. He is a source of comfort for her through his companionship, random snippets of bunny wisdom just when she needs them, and his warmth. Elly also has a perpetually imperiled friend named Jenny Penny who comes from a broken home.

Elly is fascinated with Jenny Penny's unique outlook on everything and her mother's unpredictable "gypsy" lifestyle. The two of them become extremely close until one day, Jenny Penny disappears only to come back into Elly's life over a decade later.

Elly's family is a whole other subject. They're sort of like a more comfort-loving version of the family in The Mosquito Coast. Instead of finding Utopia in an undiscovered part of the jungle, they buy a house out in the country and turn it into a bed and breakfast so they can meet interesting people.

A lot of Sarah Winman's writing may seem cynical at first blush, but for those who give this book the read it deserves, I think you'll find a rich story about innocence lost and regained and having faith in the ones you love.

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