BOOK: Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (Amazon)
SUMMARY: Sad, sweet and endlessly quirky — this book about a young girl losing her mother is like no other.
You know that feeling when your blood sugar is low, it’s been raining for three weeks straight and you’re starting to suspect spring is a myth perpetuated by weak people who can’t accept the truth of eternal winter? This is the state I was in a couple months ago, when I drove through rush hour traffic to get to my favorite local bookstore, in desperate need of something to divert my attention from yet another rainy March evening.
The woman who works at the bookstore (edgy hair cut, endlessly cool demeanor) recommended this book to me so, of course, I bought it immediately. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett is told from the perspective of Elvis Babbit, a precocious and coolly methodical 12-year-old who loses her mother in a tragic sleepwalking accident. At the beginning of the book, Elvis outlines her 18-month plan for grieving her mother (the appropriate amount of time for the grieving process, according to the school counselor) with such heartbreaking clarity and determination that it almost makes you want to laugh (and then cry). But grieving is not the only thing on Elvis’ to-do list. Her troubled older sister, Lizzie, has inherited their mother’s dangerous sleepwalking habits and Elvis is determined to do everything she can to keep Lizzie safe. Meanwhile, Elvis’ dad is trying on their dead mother’s lipsticks, the rabbit cakes are spontaneously twitching in the freezer and a homeless girl named Vanessa has taken up residence in the Babbit home. Look — this book is weird as hell, but it’s also wonderful.
Elvis Babbit’s voice is delightfully unique and, at times, darkly funny. And while it is a book about loss, it is also a book about the resiliency of a family’s love — heartwarming, hopeful and perfect for spring.
So take a delicious bite of freshly frosted rabbit cake. You could use some.