Title: When God Was a Rabbit
Author: Sarah Winman
Publisher: Headline Review
Year of Release: 2011
Number of Pages: 324
This is a book about a brother and a sister.
It is a book about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumph and tragedy and everything in between.
More than anything, it's a book about love in all it's forms.
Expanded over 4 decades, When God Was a Rabbit is a different, mesmerising, incredibly thought-provoking read. Refreshingly original, the story follows the life of Elly, from the time of her birth to her middle-aged life, the friendships she is able to form and the unshakable bonds she shares with her family, particularly her brother Joe. Winman has a way of seeing the world, a way she incorporates into her characters, that is so pure and true and beautiful. Even through the most horrific complications, Winman presents them to us with an air that is almost... magical. The problems are still there, of course, but it doesn't seem so terrible when you read through her eyes. It's imaginative and, comforting, in a way. You are not alone.
Elly's childhood innocence is observed with emotional acuity and precision. She knows not of the hardships of life, the hurt of a broken heart, the experience of how two best friends can so suddenly become strangers under the influence of distance and time. But gradually and eventually the cold hard truth of life catches up with her, killing her innocent essence and unveiling the things that will later cause her to regret the desperation of growing up. Sarah Winman's experimental nature is evident in the way she approaches her writing, her creation and development of characters and the sense that she is not afraid to try something new, to stand out and be different from other authors. She presents herself in the book with a sense of righteousness and it feels as though you are right there in the story, perceiving everything in your own way.
It includes an array of interesting, individual characters that are relevant to society today- homosexuals, prisoners, cancer patients- they're all there. It is one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read.
What attracted me most to this book in the first place was, not only the many positive recommendations, but the unique and compelling title. The time when God was a rabbit was the peak of childhood innocence. And although unclear at times with no real story-line or plot, the whimsical characters and string of events that act as a backdrop to a peaceful family, are unlike any book I have encountered before. Somehow, it always comes down to one thing. Love, in all of it's forms. Winman's soft, narrative voice guides you through a perfectly woven web of life, gently annotating the good and bad parts in a way that is both beautiful and precise.
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