Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

Out now
Published by Random House. Transworld
Purchased from Amazon

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 review:

Tissues at the ready! The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a heartbreaking story of love and loss that if you're anything like me will leave you sobbing by the end.

Rabbit has been battling cancer for four years and her condition is deteriorating rapidly. We meet Rabbit as she is entering a hospice. It is apparent that she is entering the last fe days of her life, but Rabbit and her family are still fighting to save her and find that miracle cure. Rabbit has a very loving family with a very strong Mum, Molly who refuses to accept that her daughter is going to die. Her father, Jack is adorable and is clearly a devoted family man. She has a sister Grace who is married with 3 boys, and her brother Davey whose a musician and lives on touring on the road in America.

Most heartbreaking of all is Juliet, Rabbits 12 year old daughter. Juliet knows her Mum is ill but hasn't really realised, or at least acknowledged to herself that she is dying. The book is cleverly written with each chapter broken down with each character showing what is going on for them. The scenes with Juliet simply broke my heart all the way through. This strong girl who has been totally devoted to caring for her Mum since she was 8 years old had me in tears more than once.

The story flits between the present and the past and tells the story of Rabbit's younger years following her brothers band around. This is where the reader meets Johnny. The older boy who Rabbit falls madly in love with. There is a very sad story with this too, but it helps draw everything together at the end of the book.

It feels wrong to say that I loved this book given the harrowing storyline, but it is so well written it captivated me. The characters are so strong with each chapter portraying how they are each feeling. I lost my aunt to cancer a few years ago. She had six young children and I found this book taking me back to her illness and realising just how amazingly strong they had been to keep her at home and nurse her. Whilst the book felt quite close to home and raw the flashbacks to Rabbits childhood broke this up and gave some relief.

The book is very emotional, and tragic, and this intensifies towards the end. I would perhaps suggest that if you have been through a similar experience in recent years you may want to consider whether this is the right book for you to read.

If as a reader you are looking for a book about unconditional love, family devotion, happy memories and how people cope in the bleakest of times then this book will provide it all. It is very well and sensitively written and I felt like she author really cared about each one of them. I found some of the scenes very funny and Graces family made me smile.

Thank you to Random House, Transworld for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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