The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes - Anna McPartlin


Genre: Fiction
Synopsis: 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.


Review: There is only one Anna McPartlin book I have not read, and I will get to it, but I think I can still safely say that this one is her most accomplished work to date. I have never not enjoyed a book by this talented lady, but this one kept me up until half four in the morning reading to the end.

The last days of Mia (Rabbit) Hayes are shared with us by a vast cast of family and friends, to whom we are introduced in retrospective recollections of a quirky childhood; loveable and loving people each distinctively wrought by a talented hand. We see elderly parents attempt to deal with outliving their child, we see the daughter to whom no adult will admit her mother is dying, we see the siblings trying to figure out their own futures amidst the knowledge that their sister has none. All of these things are portrayed powerfully, heartbreakingly, and honestly - they bring out the best, and the worst, in everyone, but through it all the love and support for each other is unrelenting.

Rabbit herself is an admirable character, who we see in many stages of her life; awkward adolescent developing a crush on someone who ultimately becomes - in the most heart-breaking way - a lifelong friend.  Brave writer and blogger with a fierce will to overcome this disease. And finally a physical shell of her former self, drifting between the present and the memories of her past as she lives her final days in a hospice. This is not the first book I have read about a person (or persons) dying, but it is the most realistic one. It is at times darkly hilarious, and I occasionally found myself laughing through the tears, wondering at some of the things being said and done - but this novel just goes to show that there isn't really an appropriate way to deal with the death of a loved one, there are just ways to cope and to go on. Some of that involves inappropriateness and laughter amidst the moments of panicked realisation that they are leaving you.

And the ending? I get shivers thinking about it now. Just... perfect.

A turbulent and evocative read for which you'll need tissues at the ready, but The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes are not to be missed.

Rating: 5/5

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