by Sarah Winman

Bloomsbury Press, $25.00, 304 pages

Sometimes a pretty bauble holds little but air. When God Was A Rabbit looks at the life of Elly in two parts: when she is a girl and then when she is a woman. We follow her from Essex to Cornwall to New York as she grows up.  It is the absorbing tale of a woman looking to find herself through those around, and defining herself by those relationships, with a sideways glance at the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

This could have been a great book in the realistic magic school. The writing is really beautiful, and you are right there with the characters. When 9/11 hits, there is no question that there is serious worry about any missing characters and you will fall in love with the characters, even the jerks. However, it follows the basic popular fiction checklist: gay brother, stab at God, larger-than-life friend, non-standard parents, mandatory rape scene, weird characters. This is a great first book, and Winman has a career ahead of her, but in this book she just begins to shine.

Jamais Jochim