When God Was a Rabbit is such a beautiful book it brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.
The book revolves around the protagonist, Eleanor or Elly, from her birth in the late 1960’s to her life in her mid-thirties. It has subtle hints of a memoir dissolved in it, as it does trace some real events that happed in the author, Sarah Winman’s, life.
I took up this book in one of the Feline Friends Book sales that I was volunteering for; thinking that it would be a good shift from the usual political drama and historical fiction that I read. It would be something that’s light, something without any controversy and just something that I could happily fall asleep to.
But I was wrong…about the ‘no controversy’ part, anyway.
When God Was a Rabbit has a diverse range of characteristics, not in the racial spectrum, but in the sexuality spectrum. The book revolves around the relationship between Elly and her brother Joe, who is gay. The book also has a bisexual character, Nancy Portman, who is Elly’s aunt.
The book starts off with little Elly going to a Catholic school, who her atheist father isn’t happy about and her non-observant Christian mother doesn’t care much for, but it’s the only good school in the district. In the school Elly is subject to a severe definition of God and is shouted at for defining God in a more liberal sense. While this doesn’t really speak of all Catholic schools now-a-days, it certainly does give us an idea about how the schools used to run sixty years ago.
Elly names the rabbit, that Joe got for her at Christmas, God because, to her, the rabbit represents friendship, love and everything beautiful.
But the books doesn’t completely dismiss the idea of Christianity either. In the book, Joe does speak about becoming a Catholic because he loves the feeling of a church. There also isn’t any start revolt from the Christian community that they live in, when Joe comes out as gay. There may be a hint of disapproval from some, but there is general acceptance from everyone.
The book also has actual events of violence, like the destruction of the Twin Towers, various London riots and some other events that I am not going to disclose here since I don’t want to spoil the book for you.
When God Was a Rabbit is a books of free spirit and antagonism, about dismissing the stubborn definition of God that is imposed on all, and of love and relationships that are far more iridescent than any religion.