From the publisher Bloomsbury:
"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."
Elly is the sister and Joe the brother. And in between are their parents, Elly's friend Jenny Penny, assorted lodgers and god the rabbit.
Young Elly's early loss of innocence in the first few chapters and her brother's promise to protect her always sets the tone for the sibling's relationship. We follow the siblings from 1968 England through to New York 9/11 in the second half of the book. Winman has crafted a novel that kept me off kilter but quickly turning pages from start to finish. The characters are off beat, but the bonds to those they love are undeniably strong. Every character seems to be a step out of time with the rest of the world.
"'That's a good thing, isn't it? To stand apart and be different?' he said. 'I'm not sure' I said, quite aware of my own muted need to fit in to somehow simply hide. 'I don't want people to know I'm different'. And I looked up and and saw my brother standing in the doorway."
And they are different - but in a good way. I found the story of young Elly and Joe to be especially poignant. However, they didn't evoke the same reaction in me when they were older in the second half. That's not to say that the story unfolded in the latter part of the book is no less emotional. It is, but I think it was the loss of innocence on so many levels by the younger characters that was the most heartbreaking. There are many sad moments in this story, but there are just as many funny ones. The secondary cast, particularly the parents and lodgers were favourites of mine. Their acceptance of any and all and their inclusion of those on the periphery into their family endeared them to me. I found the use of god the rabbit throughout Elly's life to be an unique allegorical device.
Sound good? Well, thanks to the publisher I have one copy to giveaway to a lucky reader. Open to US and Canada. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends Sat. Jun 11 at 6 pm EST.
Check out what other bloggers thought on Winman's TLC book tour.