This is Not a Review – #2

Headline Publishing Group, 2011

When God was a Rabbit, by Sarah Winman, can now be inducted into the hall of books I haven’t bothered finishing. (There are several more books on the list than I’m willing to tell you about.) This one, however, I feel deserves some discussion. While I’m curious to know what happened, and would love to have you tell me if you know, I fear there was very little ‘point’ to this book. I honestly couldn’t tell you what it was about and, if you’ve read the “synopsis” on the back, it seems neither could the publisher. Here’s what it says:

This is a book about a brother and a sister. It’s a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it’s a book about love in all its forms.

Vague. And sadly, better-written than the book itself. (Hey, fun sidenote! Did you know they have someone else write the synopsis? It’s literally an actual job to just summarise novels.) So here’s my take on the whole thing: the book got a lot of hype (which is, I think, attributable to the title and cover alone), but the scope of the story was so unfocused that Winman got lost in explaining too many things. For some authors it’d be no problem to juggle multiple themes or storylines, but in this case the writing talent wasn’t strong enough to carry that out. I had to read passages several times to understand them (or decide I never would and move on). Disappointing.

And, because I can’t finish up without putting this out there – I must say I was pretty offended at the blasphemy laced throughout the book. Yes, yes, her-har, the pet rabbit’s name is God. But that’s not where it ended. There were digs at God, Jesus, religion and spirituality in general all through out the book (okay, at least so far as I read) that didn’t have to be there. I think this is one of the themes the author was aiming for – at least I hope an attempt was made to show the end-result of the protagonist’s (presumed) quest for a deeper connection to her spirituality. But really. It got to that point where boundaries were starting to be crossed; you know when a joke’s gone a little too far and people are starting to get worried and look sideways at each other, but they keep laughing nervously? That’s how I felt. I know art and writing are meant to smudge the lines and provoke thought – but when it starts to hint at a true, underlying disdain, it suddenly becomes intolerant. But I digress. Perhaps the end of the story justified its means. Perhaps I can’t see the forest for all the trees (or the message for all the wordiness). And I never will. Because I refuse to finish this book! It’s just not worth spending so many hours of my life being so confused.

And with that, my faithful readers, I will wrap this up with a list about stories featuring rabbits, which I believe are worth reading:

She's reminiscent of Japan's "Hello Kitty and Friends", but Miffy is a Dutch creation!

1) The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

2) The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson

3) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (featuring the White Rabbit)

4) The Miffy books, illustrated by Dick Bruna (you wouldn’t really read these, since they’re picture books)

And – why not? – a list of other famous rabbits with better thought-out names than God:

1) Bugs Bunny & Roger Rabbit: proof that alliteration is always amazing.

2) Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail & Cecily Parsley (Beatrix Potter, again)

Published in 1922, by Frederick Warne & Co. So cute!

3) Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Pipkin, Speedwell, Hawkbit: some of the most creative of the names that show up in Richard Adam’s Watership Down (which I admit I have yet to read!).

4) Frank (That creepy bunny from Donnie Darko. I know; I didn’t get it either.)

That about does it for my word about rabbits, and When God was a Rabbit. Tell me what you thought of the book, if you’ve read it. If you haven’t, just tell me about your favourite famous bunny! There are way more than I’ve even begun to list here!


2 responses

  1. Debo – You are a great writer. I like hearing your perspective and the things you have to say. By the way, in grade 9 I had a friend also named Natasha who was OBSESSED with “Watership Down”. I read about half of it but wasn’t too enthralled. That being said, I was only 16 so maybe it is an alright read. I had something else to say about rabbits but now I forget. So that is all I have to say!

  2. Pingback: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler | A Novel Thing

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