Saturday, July 09, 2016

When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman


This is the story of brother and sister Joe and Elly. As kids, Elly is abused by a neighbor and only her brother knows. Joe realizes he's gay and for a while only Elly knows. The two understand each other inside out and know each other's darkest, deepest secrets. As they grow old, this helps them maintain a special bond. A few peripheral characters add some interesting story telling to the mix, including an eccentric friend who disappears as a kid and then returns as an adult in jail for killing her abusive husband. There's also a couple of regulars from Joe and Elly's bread and breakfast. And of course there's God, the rabbit.

This book started well and I really liked Elly as a character and her development. But there were just a lot of unanswered questions for me. Winman takes the approach that she doesn't need to blatantly state anything that happens in this book but it leaves for a really murky story. Furthermore, the characters don't seem to be overly bothered by things that happened to them, which makes you wonder whether what you suspect happened actually happened.

There were also a lot of things that happened in the book that served no other purpose than Winman being able to continue to tell her story. For example, the family becomes rich and there's really no reason for it other than to allow them to move to a B&B.

I was surprised when 9/11 was included in this book and then even more surprised when the outcome was completely glossed over and didn't really make sense.

It's unfortunate there were these weird plot problems because the story of Elly and Joe could have been great.

First Line: "I decided to enter this world just as my mother got off the bus after an unproductive shopping trip to Ilford."


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