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Melissa Luznicky Garrett
on Oct. 11, 2011 :
RABBITS IN THE GARDEN, by Jessica McHugh, was a book I wanted to read as soon as I heard about it. I don't often read suspense/horror stories (I've got a sensitive disposition and am prone to nightmares), but there was just something about this one that pricked my attention.
This book follows Avery over a six-year span. Although the beginning of Avery's story is innocuous enough, the reader quickly learns that all is not what it seems in the Norton household. While I don't want to give away any spoilers, there is one incident between Avery and her mother in the garden that sets the tone for the rest of the story. It is one of those moments that seemingly comes out of the blue and thwacks you over the head with a stick, and I really felt like my shock over what had just happened mirrored Avery's.
Jessica does a good job of keeping the reader in suspense. Just when you think you know what's going on with the characters, she pulls the proverbial rug out from under your feet. I read the Kindle edition while walking on the treadmill, and there was a time I was so surprised by a turn of events, I actually almost fell off!
I think what I liked most about RABBITS IN THE GARDEN is that Avery's time in Taunton felt a bit reminiscent of one of my favorite movies, GIRL INTERRUPTED. I enjoy reading books that focus heavily on character emotion and motivation, and not just plot. RABBITS IN THE GARDEN is just as much a story about the relationships Avery builds with the other girls while inside Taunton, as it is about her struggle to escape the institution.
My only nit-pick about the book is that transitions were not always well executed. Sometimes a significant amount of time passes from one paragraph to another, and such a jump would take me out of the story for a few moments. Other times the characters would be talking to each other in one place and end up across the room or driving in a car with no word about how they'd gotten there in the first place. However, these minor details did not detract from the overall story.
I enjoyed this book and give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)