I’ve been thinking “Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote a blog post”, but I looked, and it hasn’t been a while. I’ve just felt that busy. But, in between the reports and market research I’ve managed to finish the book I’ve been reading the past three weeks: When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (2011, Headline Publishing Group).
“This is a book about a brother and a sister,” reads the back cover. And it is, to a certain extent.The narrator is Elly, the sister, who begins the first part of the book with tales of her birth and childhood, peppered in are traumatic and/or memorable events. Secrets she asks her brother, Joe, to keep, which is supposed to show how close they are. However, I never feel the strong sibling bond I would expect. Far too soon in the novel, both characters seem to go their own separate ways. They become engrossed in their own problems. Part of this is to do with an event that happens to Elly when she’s around six years old.
There are a lot of vague references and hints of things going on. I found the lack of coherent timeline hard to follow and found myself wondering exactly how old Elly was. Maybe part of my problem was that I read it over several weeks, but if we’re being realistic, few people read a book in one week.
The second part of the novel brings with it more clarity, and compelling side stories. The book seems to be made up almost entirely of side-stories. Winman tries to weave them around the relationship between Elly and Joe, but because I didn’t feel it was fully formed in the beginning of the novel, I don’t think it carries through to the end.
And there’s the ending. By this, I mean the last one hundred pages, which are tearjerkers. This is less because of what happens to Elly and Joe, and more because of the imagery of the events surrounding them. When Elly gets angry, I think we’re supposed to as well, but I didn’t really care.
My overall opinion of this book is that, at times, the imagery is beautiful and captivating. I found myself flying through the pages to find out what happened. In the end, however, I just don’t care about the characters any more than I did at the beginning. The book is a story about family, advertised as being about a brother and sister, but I’m left feeling like I know nothing more about these characters and what they are thinking than I did before. Sure, I know what happened to them, the events that shaped their lives, but just like Elly feels a disconnect from everyone, I feel a disconnect with Elly.
My final thoughts/opinion?
I probably wouldn’t recommend this book. It was just a bit average.