King of Rabbits
CHOSEN AS BOOK OF THE MONTH BY AFRORI BOOKS
FEATURED ON BBC RADIO 4: OPEN BOOK
‘It’s hard not to fall for the main character . . . you can see the car crash coming, but you can’t look away’ CLAIRE FULLER
‘A brilliantly crafted story about class and race, and the failure of society to catch children who fall through the cracks’ INDEPENDENT
Kai lives on a rural council estate in Somerset with his three older sisters, and his mum who is being led into an addiction by his troubled father. Kai adores three things: his dad, his friend Saffie and the school rabbit Flopsy – and is full of ambition to be the fastest runner in Middledown Primary. But Kai’s natural optimism and energy collide with an adult world he doesn’t understand. And when his life drifts towards an event that will change everything, will his love of nature and the wild rabbits in the woods provide him with the resilience he needs to overcome the odds?
‘A heartfelt novel about poverty, race and trauma’ GUARDIAN
‘A brilliant debut; vivid and compelling’ JENNI FAGAN
King of Rabbits weaves around Kai, a wee boy growing up among love, loss and chaos on a council estate in Somerset. Kai pits his imagination against the realities of poverty, class and racism, as the world around him spirals. Neblett has drawn a really interesting character in Kai, and he particularly shines in the parts of the story when he is a small child ... and there are other really strong characters throughout, too ... As Kai experiences a variety of emotional awakenings in the novel, we are dragged along with him and feel his pain at every turn. And a couple of the bigger events in the narrative are foreshadowed in a skillful manner. So there really is a lot to praise about King of Rabbits ... There is enough in this book to warrant a recommendation, for sure. Neblett's experience in previous roles is put to good use to bring a believable character and a believable circumstance to life, and there was never a point when I didn't want to keep reading to find out what would happen to Kai. And there are points in King of Rabbits that are extremely powerful. * Bookmunch * Family breakdown is observed from a child's perspective in a novel about poverty, race and inherited trauma... Neblett is perceptive about the ways in which dysfunction is handed down through generations... [and] has a good ear for the vernacular of Kai and his circle: letters from school make his mother "aggy as fuck", and a self-important authority figure has "macky eyebrows and wobbles in his voice".... King of Rabbits is a heartfelt novel about poverty, race and inherited trauma. -- Matt Rowland Hill * Guardian * When I was reading King of Rabbits, I was reminded of writers like Andrea Dunbar and Barry Hines, writers who clearly lived what they were writing about. -- Jonny Pitts You won't be able to predict the outcome of King Of Rabbits. Told through the eyes of Kai, a mixed-race kid who grows up on a rural council estate in Somerset where he and his three older sisters have three different dads, he searches for solace in nature and the wild rabbits he finds there. But with his on and off again parents falling deeper into crack addiction, it seems his optimism and energy for life might not be enough to escape the limitations of poverty. It's a powerful and tragic read, making a profound statement about how important access to opportunities can be, and how much of an impact your childhood and background can have on your future. As the novel flips between the protagonist as a young boy and as a teenager, you are able to map the significant moments that fundamentally alter his course. It's a brilliantly crafted story about class and race, and the failure of society to catch children who fall through the cracks. * Independent * Karla Neblett's hugely impressive debut novel King of Rabbits is a vividly realised story about a resourceful, sensitive and imaginative boy from a mixed-race, blended family on a Somerset council estate ... It's a novel drawn from Karla's tender and acute perception of the people she was surrounded by growing up, and her subsequent work with troubled children and teenagers, and pulls no punches about the persistent perils in disadvantaged communities of becoming overwhelmed by money worries, substance abuse and thoughts of ending it all. * Bookanista * [T]he story is meticulously observed and beautifully told ... All the characters are vividly brought to life while the passages of natural description are authentic. A touching, witty yet tragic novel that asks whether a child can overcome his circumstances. * Irish Daily Mail * It's hard not to fall for the main character, Kai, in King of Rabbits ...The story, set on a council estate in rural Somerset alternates between young Kai, and 15 year-old-Kai. You can see the car crash coming, but you can't look away. -- Claire Fuller King of Rabbits is a brilliantly crafted story * The Scotsman *
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