Monday, 19 January 2015

Guest Book Review: Anna McPartlin - The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end... 

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. 

She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. 

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen. 

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

I’m ashamed to say The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes has been languishing on my Kindle for ages. The trade paperback was released here in Ireland last summer and I even spotted it in the library but the subject matter was putting me off. I know the topic is becoming ever more relevant to all generations but I just seem to have a thing about books that are dealing with cancer. I even admit to having Emma Hannigan’s ‘The Pink Ladies Club’ sitting in my T.B.R pile for quite some time, even though I’ve read all of Emma’s other books and love them. So with some trepidation I began reading The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes and quite soon with some relief all my fears and worries were quickly washed away as I became engrossed in the story of Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes as she battles the later stages of cancer.

I have read all of Anna’s books right from the beginning when she published Pack up the Moon but with this new release it is a real departure for her and she was brave to take on such a sensitive subject. Right from the powerful, raw, honest and emotional opening in the form of a blog entry the author had me in the palm of her hand and didn’t relinquish her hold until the very last word. I’m only sorry I didn’t read this far sooner. Yes, it’s a book where you need tissues handy but I really didn’t think I would be laughing out loud one minute and struggling to hold back the tears the next. But there were so many funny moments that the author deserves great recognition for achieving the perfect balance between seriousness and humour. Rabbit’s story is told over the last nine days of her life as she is in a hospice having successfully battled cancer before a broken leg spells the end as the cancer has spread. But this is not just Rabbit’s story but that of her family who were so well written, a real Irish family with lots of humour and loads of Irish mannerisms I was familiar with and heard all too often amongst my own family over the years.

Molly is the matriarch of the family and is determined not to let Rabbit go without a fight or having exhausted all options of treatment. She was just brilliantly written her determination, courage and strength shone through but her sharp retorts and comments were just classic Irish Mammy behaviour. Throughout the book she always put her family’s needs first before herself. Jack - Rabbit’s dad, was really struggling to cope with what was going on as no parent should have to bury their child. Rabbit has two siblings - Davey is a drummer with a country musician in America he returns home as soon as he is called to be there to support his family but yet at the same to address some of his own demons and face up to reality.

Grace – Rabbit’s sister was juggling her own family life and issues whilst trying to contemplate life without her beloved Rabbit. I loved Grace she had such a strong marriage to Lenny, they did go through ups and downs like any couple but it was refreshing to read of a couple who were still together after twenty years of marriage. Grace’s children were such a tonic in the story providing plenty of laughs especially Jeffrey who Grace had on a permanent diet, his attempts at sneaking food were hilarious. I cannot forget the two most important people in Rabbit’s life - Johnny - her quite often unrequited love and a member of Davey’s band, he seemed so together and grown up as Rabbit recounted her history with him. Of course Rabbit’s daughter Juliet, who has done so much for her mum, reading all the care and attention she gave her despite still only been twelve was heart-breaking but yet admirable as you realise no matter what age you are you know you would do the same for your own parent. She knows she is facing a future without her mother but still she is determined and brave.

The great banter and camaraderie between the family all really add to the telling of the story, yes they may be putting on a brave face in front of Rabbit but underneath they are all suffering and dreading what the future will hold without their youngest sister. Beautifully summed up in this line when Grace and Davey contemplate their future as two siblings not three. They took each other’s hands ‘It was their first step in their relationship as sister and brother without her’. Everyone should read Rabbit Hayes the book was written from the heart and reminded me what a fantastic author Anna McPartlin really is. It’s not all doom and gloom but written with such sensitivity, care and compassion that no one could not fail to be moved by the incredible, emotional, heart-breaking, tender and astonishing novel where the author really has outdone herself. No wonder both Richard and Judy and Simon Mayo have selected this stunning read for their book clubs. I suggest you go out and buy as soon as you can you won’t be disappointed.

Another fabulous review from Emma for this eBook which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely review, can't wait to get my hands on this