|The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes|
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes
by Anna McPartlin
St. Martin's Press
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is just as it sounds: an accounting of the last days of a dying woman. Sounds pretty dreary, right? I'm not even sure why I picked it up. I always have a lot of e-book galleys on my Kindle and I was on a plane ride and just thought I would give it a try. By the time we touched down, I was hooked.
Rabbit Hayes is an woman in her early 40's who is dying of cancer. That's not a spoiler- it's the premise of the book. The book is organized on a chronological timeline of her last days, with flashbacks to other parts of her life, so it's not surprising from page one that she is dying and there's not going to be a last minute reprieve.
What's surprising is the grace and humor that she and her Irish family manage to maintain while she goes through the process of dying. Family plays a central role in this novel. I almost wrote "dignity" in that first sentence as well, but the real heart of this story lies in the way Rabbit and her family handle the lack of dignity that death and grief bring. This book could be sappy sweet - it's not. It could be harrowing, horrifying, grotesque- none of these apply. It's painful and difficult, but also engaging, funny, and occasionally even glorious. My grandma was born in the U.S. but is 100% Irish descent, and it seems that humor is a daily part of life with her; I've never been around a whole Irish family, but that's reflected in this novel as well. It hit close to home for me to read about a family with this refreshingly honest and real attitude toward life and death.