Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

436 pages
Book Club Read
Paperback / Library
Rating: 3

The blurb

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.

My thoughts

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes didn’t quite do it for me. I was going to call this an easy and fun book, because that’s how it read. But that is also what is wrong with this it. I don’t want a book about cancer and dying to be easy to read—and probably easy to forget—or fun. Some levity among the darkness is always welcome. But this was more than just ‘some’; this felt like an author trying too hard and/or over-compensating. Sometimes a story is just sad, and it’s okay for the reader to actually experience that emotion fully.

I think the problem is that it is nigh on impossible to write a light-hearted book about a youngish woman, single mother to a twelve year old daughter, dying from cancer. At some point the author has to choose between funny and poignant, or at least strike a convincing balance, and I can’t help feeling the author failed to do so. Every time the story appeared to be leaning towards poignancy some light-hearted relief would be thrown in. It almost felt as if the author was trying to shield the reader from raw emotions. And while I’m no lover of angst, this, to me, was the other extreme. Some subjects should not be taken lightly or glossed over.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the characters in this book. Rabbit Hayes is fabulous, the sort of person I’d love to hang out with. I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between the various characters in this book and the very Irish nature of it. In any other story-line the characters and the way they interact would have made this a perfect read for me. But there comes a time when you have to leave banter behind and be serious and that didn’t happen or for long enough in this book.

The combination of enjoying the characters but disliking the way the author treated a very serious subject made for an interesting and at times confusing reading experience. There were sections in this book where I completely forgot I was reading a book about a 42 year young woman dying from cancer. And I would enjoy the section right until the moment Rabbit’s stark reality was brought into focus again. By that stage I would dislike both myself for having forgotten and the author for allowing me to—or maybe even making me—forget.

On a final note I also have to say that I feel the author was trying to be too smart with the ending to this story. What is she trying to say? That Rabbit had been wrong in her assumptions about life and death? Did she feel ending the story this way made it less depressing? Was did an attempt to give a happy ever after to a story that couldn’t possibly have one? I have absolutely no idea how to answer those questions. What I do know is that it left me feeling distinctly ‘meh’.

No comments:

Post a Comment