Rabbit Food with Chicken Nuggets (and a book review of The Damage Done

In a world where it seems like we are living out a dystopian plot, it’s nice to read something that appears to depict utopia.  The Damage Done by Michael Landweber might be just what we need.

About the novel:  

For fans of Ben Winters and Sarah Pinsker, this mind-bending and thought-provoking novel pushes the limits of fiction, questioning the violence sewn into our DNA.

Violence is a thing of the past—but do new horrors lie in wait?

Imagine a world devoid of violence—a world where fists can’t hit, guns don’t kill, and bombs can’t destroy. In this tantalizing novel of possibility, this has—suddenly and inexplicably—become our new reality.

The U.S. president must find a new way to wage war. The Pope ponders whether the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is still relevant. A dictator takes his own life after realizing that the violence he used to control his people is no longer an option.

In the first days after the change, seven people who have experienced violence struggle to adapt to this radical new paradigm: Dab, a bullied middle schooler; Marcus, a high school student whose brother is the last victim of gun violence in America; Ann, a social worker stuck in an abusive marriage; Richard, a professor whose past makes him expect the worst in the present; Gabriela, who is making a dangerous border crossing into the U.S.; the Empty Shell, a dissident writer waiting to be tortured in a notorious prison; and Julian, a white supremacist plotting a horrific massacre. As their fates intertwine, the promise and perils of this new world begin to take shape.

Although violence is no longer possible, that doesn’t mean that some among us won’t keep trying. Mindless cruelty is still alive and well—and those bent on destruction will seek the most devious means to achieve it.

“In this wildly inventive novel, Michael Landweber paints a portrait of a world where physical violence is impossible, but humans still find ways to hurt. It’s a sweeping story about connections, love and loss, second chances, and redemption that will linger in readers’ minds long after they turn the last page.”–Tara Laskowski, author of The Mother Next Door and One Night Gone

About the author:

Michael Landweber lives and writes in Washington, DC. His short stories have appeared in literary magazines such as Gargoyle, Fourteen Hills, Fugue, Barrelhouse and American Literary Review. He is an Associate Editor at Potomac Review and a contributor for The Washington Independent Review of Books.  He was a self-described bureaucrat in Washington before becoming a full time writer.

What I thought…

“Your fiction is our reality. Your reality is our dream.” (325)
                                                                         –The Empty Shell
Can you imagine a world without violence?    This novel is described as science fiction because of the enormity of that ask.   It’s hard to fathom.  Landweber creates his world without violence by showing the “change” through characters who lived with violence daily: a bullied child, a teenager from the projects who has just lost his brother to gun violence, a woman who experiences domestic violence daily, a college professor who lost his father to a gun shot and his mother to a prison, a racist teenager bent on destruction, two young sisters from El Salvador trying to make it to the United States, and a peaceful-poet-protestor from a country run by a mad dictator.

Most all of his characters cross paths along their journeys in this new reality of non-violence. We never really know how the change materialized or who was behind it.  If it was a world power, it was not from the U.S.  Nor was it from a South American country where the dictator would rather commit suicide than deal with a population that he can’t control.  (It’s ironic that one could still commit self-harm in this novel.)   The Asian country of the Dear Leader seemed not to have a hand in it either.  (It was ludicrous in a macabre way to read about his epiphany to still create mass executions.)

 I did love that all the characters overcame their violent lives (save one—that of the demented white supremist).  I also loved how Lendweber interwove the plotlines to interconnect the characters and their own paths of change.
As a jaded reader, however, I did wonder how things would go—even as the novel ends ten years after the change.   Who would provide authority?  How could things be kept from running amok?  Who had the control and how?
I soon went back to just ponder on the utopia that Landweber creates and imagine the possibilities of a world with no violence.

The Food.

When a book up for review here has a very serious subject matter, I sometimes turn away from finding any culinary inspiration in its pages.   That was almost the case here.   I was most drawn to the Ann’s character, the young wife who had to return home daily to a maniacal husband.   This professional woman who was able to run foundations, kept returning home and submitting to the violence.  I have never understood how that can happen and I have never been in that situation.  Just like the other characters in the book, Ann triumphs in the end.   I almost stood up and applauded when she realized her own self-worth.

So, to celebrate Ann I decided to morph together two meals that revolve around her.  One is a meal from her early life, a salad of “kale, some cucumbers, carrots, sunflower seeds for protein” (68).  This salad sounded immediately delicious to me even if she was only eating it to lose weight for her abusive husband.  She also prepares a separate meal for him because he won’t eat this “rabbit food.”

From her second life, that of a loving wife and mother who runs a multi-million dollar foundation, I topped the salad with my  version of chicken nuggets.  Right before she is called on stage by her powerful and rich boss, she gets a phone call from home.  In a twist from her previous life, her current husband is home cooking and caring for their children.  He has just over nuked the chicken nuggets to the horror of their young daughter.  That’s a much better picture.

Rabbit Food with Chicken Nuggets


Use whatever greens you like but don’t overcook your nuggets!


  • 8 chicken tenders, cut into chunks (about 1 1/4 lb.)
  • 1 c. panko
  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  • 1/4 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 5 oz. baby kale
  • 4 mini Persian cucumbers, sliced
  • 3-4 carrots, grated
  • 1/2 c. sunflower seeds

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare chicken nuggets.  Preheat oven to 400 F.   Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together panko, basil, oregano, parmesan cheese, paprika,  salt and pepper.
  3. Dip each chicken chunk in melted butter to coat, then coat in the bread crumb mixture.
  4. Place on the foil-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between each piece.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through and chicken is no longer pink in the middle(165 degrees F).
  6. While the chicken is baking, prepare the salad and the vinaigrette.
  7. Divide the kale between four serving plates.  Continue to evenly disperse the rest of the ingredients:  arrange the cucumbers and grated carrots on top then sprinkle with sun flower seeds.
  8. Make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a jar and shaking.
  9. Remove chicken from oven and cool slightly.  Top each salad with the nuggets and drizzle with vinaigrette.    Serve.

Yield: 4

We had four big dinner-size salads with this recipe.  The basil got a bit dark when baking, but the nuggets tasted great.  I’m loving everything about this recipe, especially the character that inspired it.

I received a free copy of The Damage Done from TLC Book Tours for an honest review.

For all my TLC book reviews, click here.

For what other tour hosts thought, check out these bloggers below:

Monday, March 7th: @brianas_best_reads

Tuesday, March 8th: @ceciliabereading on TikTok

Wednesday, March 9th: @nina_the_bookworm

Thursday, March 10th: Eliot’s Eats

Friday, March 11th: @bathtubbookworm

Monday, March 14th: @angelsmomreads

Wednesday, March 16th: @monikasbookblog

Friday, March 18th: @bookswithallison on TikTok

Monday, March 21st: @angiearoundwonderland

Wednesday, March 23rd: Buried Under Books

Wednesday, March 23rd: @sidneylynnray on TikTok

Thursday, March 24th: @haun_flying_solo on TikTok

Friday, March 25th: Girl Who Reads


I’m also posting at Kahakai Kitchen for Deb’s Souper Sundays.

7 comments to Rabbit Food with Chicken Nuggets (and a book review of The Damage Done

  • mae

    The premise of the book sounds more unrealistic as every day goes by! I can’t imagine wanting to read it at a time like this (but you pre-committed, I guess). Home-made chicken nuggets are a neat idea, though I’ve never really been a fan of the commercial/fastfood variety.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  • Liz

    Love your book reviews! I wish I had more time to read!!!

  • Wow! Great review, and it’s so interesting how you settled on a recipe to share. Thank you!

  • Wendy

    Fun inspiration for the meal from this novel that seems to have been disconcerting. Thanks for the review

  • This sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the detailed review. My dad allows called salad rabbit food so I had to laugh at the name of the dish. I personally would love this rabbit food with thos awesome chicken nuggets.

  • Panko? my fave kind of breadcrumbs. the japanese seem to have a way with food! and i love it.

  • I love the creativity in your salad–it looks delicious. A Souper Sundays roundup is finally posted and a new link open for two weeks. Sorry for being so flakey!