Thank you to Alice and Picador for sending me a proof copy of Catch The Rabbit in exchange for an honest review.
Sara hasn’t seen or heard from her childhood best-friend, Lejla, in years. She’s comfortable with her life in Dublin, with her partner, their avocado plant, and their naturist neighbour. But when Lejla calls and demands she come home to Bosnia, Sara finds that she can’t say no.
What begins as a road trip becomes a journey through the past, as the two women set off to find Armin, Lejla’s brother who disappeared towards the end of the Bosnian War. Presumed dead by everyone else, only Lejla and Sara believed Armin was still alive.
Confronted with the limits of memory, Sara is forced to reconsider the things she thought she understood as a girl: the best friend she loved, the first experiences they shared, but also the social and religious lines that separated them, that brought them such different lives.
Translated into English by Lana Bastašic, Catch the Rabbit tells the story of how we place the ones we love on pedestals, and then wait for them to fall off, how loss marks us indelibly, and how the traumas of war echo down the years.
Catch The Rabbit is a complicated, unique story surrounding friendship, war and childhood memories.
Told through Sara’s chatty perspective, it really gives you a thorough idea of who she is and her stream-of-consciousness style is raw and entirely like chatting to a friend. This is interspersed with the road trip and their past – their childhood memories and friendship from a different viewpoint.
Sara and Lejla are not particularly likeable characters but their depth and decorum is what drew me to them. The impact of the Balkan War is starkly evident from Sara and Lejla’a friendship. Sara having moved away to Dublin for over a decade, and Lejla staying put in Bosnia. After they are reunited on a search, it’s clear how they have been shaped as people because of their surroundings.
The ‘road trip’ style car journey is what forces the two in such close proximity after such a long time apart. It’s evident their chat goes through phases of happy, sad and everything in between. Their memories are often warped, with different versions of the same event. I found this flitting between time and perspective shifts a bit hard to get my head around at first but soon adapted to the writing style and enjoyed the flow of the narrative.
Lana Bastašić is a brilliant writer and her words really grip you in a beautifully real fashion. Having translated the novel into English herself, it’s clear that each word has been pondered and thought through.
I had questions right through to the very end of this novel, be prepared to be continually unsure what to think, but in the best possible way! I enjoyed this as it kept me guessing. Catch The Rabbit is out now from Picador. You can purchase using the link below, and also help to support independent bookshops.
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Until next time,