Book 51, a book by a new author, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartin
In some respects, I am very glad that I saved this book until the very end of my challenge. I have personally undergone a lot of grief the past few months–my mother suffered a massive heart attack in October, my cat was diagnosed with incurable cancer in November, and then with all of the political strife and despair occurring in our country, I have been laboring under a cloud of sadness. It has been a rough year to say the least. This book so beautifully deals with loss and grief that I found myself feeling comforted and healed alongside the characters. The awful truth of it is, bad things happen. People die. Grief will come to you one way or another. This novel shows the ugly sides of grief, but also the ways in which grief can transform us into something better, something beautiful, because even in our deepest despair and grief, there is a powerful, beautiful love.
Forty year old Rabbit Hayes is a single mother to twelve year old Juliet. In her corner she has an unstoppable mother, a loving father, and two hilarious and loving siblings. The family has a rough but loving way of interacting with one another–you will actually laugh out loud as Rabbit’s mother cusses out her father or siblings–but you will also so cry at the level of devotion they all have for one another. The family is devastated when Rabbit is diagnosed with breast cancer. After losing a breast, Rabbit beats cancer, until she finds it in her other breast. Then it metastasizes to her other organs, and finally to her bones. When it has reached the bones, the doctors tell the family it’s time to throw in the towel and take Rabbit to hospice care to end her time in as much comfort as possible. But Rabbit’s family refuses to give up on her.
This story is about the last days of Rabbit Hayes, and how she chooses to spend the last days of her life surrounded by love, hope, and beauty rather than sadness, anger, and despair. McPartin does a beautiful job of depicting the boundless love of family and the lengths we all go to protect the ones we love. It’s also about learning how to let go when it’s impossible to do so. Just make sure that you have a box of tissues handy when you read it!