Friday, 9 September 2011

Review: When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman

Published: March 3rd 2011, Headline
Pages: 324 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by Tesco Books

Summary (from Goodreads): An incredibly exciting debut from an extraordinary new literary voice. WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT is a mesmerising portrait of childhood and growing up; the loss of innocence, eccentricity and familial bonds. Stripped down to its bare bones, it's the story the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

My review: When God Was a Rabbit is one of the books I've been most excited about all year. Initially I fell in love with the gorgeous cover art but, as we all know, beautiful covers can hide some more than disappointing stories (Tris and Izzie, I'm looking at you). Fortunately, I'm pleased to report that it absolutely not the case with When God Was a Rabbit and it's rocketing up the charts to become one of my favourite books of the year.

I do tend to be a tad overemotional most of the time but this one really got to me. Winman is a stunning writer and I found it so hard to believe this is a debut, simply because it's so cleverly written. The language used is deceptively simple and the author manages to convey so much with such succinct writing, which reminded me of David Almond's Skellig.

I had such a sense of nostalgia while I was reading When God Was a Rabbit. Although Elly's childhood took place a decade or so before mine I still found that I saw a lot of myself and my own memories in her recollections and I think this is something all readers will love about this one. I remembered so many things about my own family and childhood while I was reading and I think for a story to really reach out from the page and grab you like that is the mark of a truly talented writer.

The blurb on the back cover contains the line: 'More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms.' That's such a perfect way to sum up this story. When you strip everything back and really examine the story it's the love between the characters that rings true and it's the love, shown in the most delicate ways, that made me tear up on more than one occasion. Yes, this one's definitely a tearjerker.

When I finished When God Was a Rabbit I felt exhausted and like I wanted to hug each and every one of my family members. This is the perfect book to curl up and read on a rainy Autumn afternoon; it's so easy to escape into Winman's story and leave everything else behind and it will make your heart swell. I'll absolutely be looking out for more of her work in the future and I wholeheartedly recommend this one to all of you. Gorgeous.

First line: 'I divide my life into two parts.'

Read if you liked…: Skellig - David Almond, Afterwards - Rosamund Lupton

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 17/20 (A)


  1. Fabulous. I am looking forward to this. I bought it ages ago. Must bump it up the pile.

  2. I've been so undecided about this book, I keep picking it up in the store and then putting it back down. It's definitely going in the basket next time - lovely review! :D

  3. I've been wondering about this one because I fell in love with the cover too ... from your review, it seems I can take a chance on it :-)

  4. Im very unsure about this book. I keep looking at it then changing my mind! I think we have very similar taste in books though so I think I might have to go for it!


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