book review: When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

When God Was a Rabbit: A NovelThe backstory: Jackie's review made me eager for the U.S. release of this one.

The basics: It's challenging to sum up a unique and quirky novel, but at its most basic, When God Was a Rabbit is the story of Elly and her brother, who grow up in England in the 1970's. It follows them over four decades.

My thoughts: Let's start with the basics: I loved this book, but it's not for everyone. Winman's writing is remarkably fresh and unusual, and her characters follow suit. If I were a bookseller, I'd be hard pressed to find a match for the "if you liked this one, then try this one" display. If pressed, I'd build a display of McSweeney's writers. If unique, original, funny, serious, and completely engaging are your thing, then stop reading and pick up When God Was a Rabbit.

For years I loved coming of age novels (especially as I was coming of age.) Then I began to enjoy them less, as they became a bit more emotionally predictable. I'm hesitant to read coming of age novels, but Sarah Winman may have cured my hesitation. The key is to have the magic When God Was a Rabbit has: to be a coming of age novel that is not just a coming of age novel. The humor is somewhat dark, but the emotion is always authentic.

The verdict: When God Was a Rabbit was an impressive and wonderful debut. I will eagerly await Sarah Winman's next novel.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Length: 296 pages
Publication date: May 10, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the publisher for review via TLC Book Tours

Want more opinions? You can find the full tour here. Already convinced? Treat yourself! Buy When God Was a Rabbit in hardback from Amazon or for the Kindle.

As an affiliate, I receive a very, very small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. I have been reading quite a few reviews of this book that make me think that I would enjoy it. I am glad that you felt the same because I also have a sort of complicated relationship with coming of age novels. Great review!

  2. I've steered clear of coming of age novels myself. They do become quite predictable after a while. I'm always up for fresh and unusual, though. This one sounds great!

  3. I'm glad to hear that this one breaks out of the stereotypes of the genre and that you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for being on the tour!

  4. Like you and others observed, coming of age novels can be a bit familiar but you've sold me on this one. I'd love to be entered in the giveaway (I clicked a bit and couldn't find a link to a form so I apologize for not doing so properly!).

  5. I like quirky so I'd probably enjoy this one. I'm waiting to read more reviews of it before I take the plunge and read it.

  6. I still enjoy coming of age books even though I'm not coming of age anymore (its the whole memoir thing I can't get enough of) and this one looks great!

  7. The title of this what is what got my attention, initially. Any thoughts on that? I'm not necessarily a fan of coming of age just because I want more out of my reading at the age I am now. If that makes sense. However, I'd be willing to give this a try.

  8. I'm really pleased that you loved this one as much as I did! I agree with you about it being very different from other books - I can't think of anything that is at all similar - and that can only be a good thing :-)

  9. This sounds like an interesting book - I hadn't heard of it. Thanks for the review!


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