Bunny by Mona Awad is the strangest book I have ever read. The synopsis barely scratches the surface of what this story truly is. Even after reading it I’m not even sure what this story truly was.
“We were just these innocent girls in the night trying to make something beautiful. We nearly died. We very nearly did, didn’t we?”
Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.
But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.
The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.
It’s best to go into this story understanding you are in for one wild ride that will force you to examine your own life. This book is like a combination of The Craft, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Alice in Wonderland. Mona Awad did an incredible job depicting the toxicity that can exist in some female relationships, especially cliques, and how we can be inclined to overlook that if it means still remaining friends. Apart of something.
The Bunnies are everything that I have, at one point or another, made fun of. Unnecessarily over the top, pretentious, and catty. It was interesting to read about their inner dynamic and then their friendship with Samantha. Even though they welcomed Samantha into their group, their distaste towards her was evident in the jabs they dressed as compliments.
Bunny offers a lot of commentary on female friendships. There is a lot of animosity between the women who are supposed to be friends as well as a high bar of competition amongst each other . Awad played with a lot of societal expectations of women, but did it in a tasteful way so readers could see just how outrageous these standards are.
The creative process and pressures of being “educated” plays a huge role in this novel as well. As someone who would love to be a professional writer, I related to this aspect entirely. There’s a lot of metaphorical talk in the novel that emphasizes how no one really knows what they’re doing. Even if they act as if they do. We throw these terms around, “it’s all about the Work. How the Body performs the Work”, without even understanding what it is we are really talking about. But if it makes us look smart and superior, who cares?
The world of academia is a scary and pompous place. Students and professors alike are working their hardest to succeed in a world that doesn’t always pay well for your work. Yet we are taught that schooling is what will set us apart and in order to succeed we have to be ruthless amongst our peers even if they are also our closest friends.
This pressure coupled with Samantha’s underlying loneliness gave reason to her actions. Even though she outwardly acted as if she despised the Bunnies, a part of her wanted to be their friend. To no longer feel like an outsider and transition to the “popular crowd”.
As the resident quiet girl, I related to Samantha most of all. No matter how much of my “outsider feeling” was manufactured on my own, it’s a feeling I had in high school and college nonetheless. I know if I had an in with the group of people who I thought were popular, I would have bitten at the chance to hang out with them.
I’d like to think I’d have the wherewithal to fully not go down the same path Samantha did, ditching my truest friends in favor of popularity, but it’s not something I can say confidently. Loneliness can make us do irrational things.
Bunny is a complex story that I think a lot of us can relate to, even in a small way. With this being a tale that’s takes “basic” girls to a whole new level, I thought this would pair well with a Sauvignon blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc’s are a bit sweet courtesy of the fruit flavor but has a bitter bite towards the end. This compliments the sweet yet bitter undertone of the Bunnies relationship with Samantha. With the ritualistic elements of the book, there is no better pairing than with the wine brand Prophecy.
If you can leave rationality behind and enter Bunny with an open mind, you’ll be in for a treat. It may include a few “what the heck am I reading” outbursts but overall Bunny is a fun read that will make you question your relationships with your friends, coworkers, and those you have perceived competition with.