Friday, 10 March 2017

Book Review: When God Was A Rabbit


One of the reasons that I bothered to pick up this book was it's beautifully designed cover artwork. It just really appealed to me visually and the title successfully captured my attention; it definitely arose a curiousity inside of me. I'm not even sure what I expected from this book prior to reading it, but there was simply a special kind of pull to read it. It was Winman's debut novel and was written incredibly beautifully. It's pages tread on a various of subjects in including relationships, childhood, adulthood and families. As its written in an almost autobiographical sense, as a reader you gain a steady relationship with the main character. However, that said this novel is mostly based around a brother and sister, alongside the sisters best friend. Family and friendship are definitely key themes throughout the book from the start of it where you witness Elly's childhood even through watching her grow into an adult. The story is overall a massive wrench on the heartstrings.

The novel shows how children are both innocent and quite headstrong; Elly and Joe come from a loving, genuinely close family and yet still Elly is extremely cynical and has an incredibly adult world view for a child, understanding issues such as abortion, domestic and sexual abuse. They are from a fairly wealthy family, which is balanced by the introduction of Jenny Penny, Elly's friend who is from a completely different social background. I enjoyed how the narrative developed as the characters aged. I found that it referenced all of the important parts of the characters lives, good and bad rather than skimming through; the first of these events was Joe going to school and Elly being left to roam the fields unaccompanied and alone. It's hard to decipher if the child Elly has an overactive imagination, whether her version of events are reliable or not. However that also being said, with Elly as narrator it is as though she grown old long before her time, summarising an event with little emotion.

The elder Elly was almost resigned to bad things happening to good people. This novel touches on some incredibly tough topics, for example the events of 9/11 directly struck Elly and her family, which is a quite a controversial topic. However, it's handled really nicely and the character of Elly is insanely close to her brother; throughout the books there are subtle hints about his sexuality but this is done in a wholly positive way. In fact, the novel sheds a positive light on a range of difficult situations but doesn't underestimate the affect it has on those involved. There are a lot of subtle, hinted at undertones of emotions which resonated with me as I remembered a lot of the events of the 90s and 00s that were referenced. I'm not sure how well this novel would be perceived by someone younger, who may not understand the intensity of the situations mentioned in both the childhood and the adulthood memories, but overall it's a fantastically compelling read. 


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