1. If you are a regularly reader of my reviews, you know I love the publishing company- Tin House. I have almost all of their fiction books and am a subscriber to their quarterly magazine.
2. I received this book for review from Tin House. I received it in exchange for an honest review. I normally don't post this in the beginning, but I wanted to be up front in stating this will have no influence on my review. I would have purchased this book at some point more than likely.
3. I really loved Rabbit Cake because like most Tin House books, one will think about it long after finishing the book and it will continue to open up more and more. Most Tin House books have several layers to them, which is why I continue to follow my first point.
Elvis is a twelve year old little girl who knows a lot of facts. She can spout them off in a heartbeat. Lizzie is her sister who has begun sleep walking and eating to the point where she has become a danger to herself and to others around her. Their father has begun putting on his wife's make up, doesn't quite know what to do with Lizzie and gives into her strange ideas- such as setting the world record for rabbit cakes, and is deeply grieving. All three are grieving the death of Elvis and Lizzie's mother who in a sleep walking incident drowned while sleep swimming.
The entire book is told from Elvis' perspective who is convinced something else happened to her mother. She thinks her mother may have had a disease which made her do this and is afraid Lizzie has the same problem. Elvis narrates her grieving journey, what she sees and hears, and seeks out answers the best she can even if she cannot fully understand it. She will find things out about her mother and father that may not be comfortable, yet she will push forward as she attempts to figure out what happened on that night..
Having Elvis as the narrator was an interesting choice by Hartnett as Elvis doesn't really understand the world or what she is seeing. She doesn't really understand grieving and thinks it can be completed in 18 months or so. She also doesn't understand sex or relationships and that will come into play a bit within the book.
The book itself deals with grieving, but also mental illness as Lizzie continues to go down a path where she gets worse and worse in her conditions. Her father is caught up in his own process, so much so that he continues to give in to Lizzie (or at least how Elvis sees it). Lizzie will eventually be institutionalized (first quarter of the book, so not a spoiler) which will set her off another path. The family will need each other to get through everything. This is a deep book and it walks down paths that are quite unexpected, but you are limited to Elvis' perspective.
This leads me to my only critique- the ending. I will not ruin the ending at all, but the book ties up too nicely for the rest of the book. It is a- everything becomes resolved ending, even though grief, especially a death like their mother's, almost cannot have a resolved ending. It did not take away from the book and fits the book, but I wish the ending was a bit messier.
In the midst of writing the review, I realized I forgot to mention one item. The book is very funny too. It is a great mix of humor and seriousness that will keep one thinking.
Here is your Amazon link- Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett