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The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

I have read every Anna McPartlin novel.  Or at least I think I have except for the most recent one released after The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes.  When I was perusing the blog for those reviews to link to, I couldn't find a review for As Sure As The Sun, and I don't remember the plot.  So I will have to investigate that one to make sure that I've read it.  I know I have read four other McPartlin novels: Pack Up the Moon, Apart from the Crowd, The Space Between Us, and  Alexandra, Gone because there are reviews for those on the blog.  Click on the book title to read the review.  And then go read the books if you haven't already.  Or read them again if you already have because they're that good.  I love McPartlin's novels and after I read Somewhere Inside of Happy, I will be all caught up with her novels.  I read on the author's Facebook page that there will be a follow up novel featuring the Hayes family either next year or the year after.   Can't wait to read it.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin is a stand-alone novel as are her other novels.  It originally came out a year or two ago.  Rabbit Hayes has cancer, and the novel literally opens with her mother driving Rabbit to hospice.  The novel takes place over the course of a little more than a week and deals largely with Rabbit and her family coming to terms with the end of her cancer battle and subsequently her impending death.  It's not an easy theme to deal with, but McPartlin imparts equal parts grace, raw grief, heartbreak, and humor to this story.

I'll be honest there were some places near the beginning of the book that I needed tissues, and you'll definitely need tissues at the end (lots of tissues for all the tears; I cried my little librarian heart out).  This book is also different in that way from McPartlin's previous novels that suck the reader in to the story and the characters' lives and trials from the first chapter.  And while previous novels also dealt out tragedy and heartache, this one's pages are humor tinged and soaked in grief and tears from page one.  Rather than let us get to know and love the characters before she hits them (and us) with a sledgehammer of tragedy and grief, McPartlin throws us in the deep end of that pool from the very beginning.

The narrative is divided into sections (each section takes place over the course of a day in successive order).  And each section is divided into chapters that rotate among the multiple perspectives of Rabbit and the people who love her best and must cope with her impending death.  Yet at first Rabbit and her parents refuse to accept that she's run out of miracles and life left to live; so much so that no one has told Rabbit's daughter, Juliet, about her mother's terminal nature of her mother's illness.  However, the perceptive girl knows the truth on a subconscious level even as she plays along with her mother's and grandparents' charade.

As Rabbit's loved ones struggle to come to terms with her looming death and to make plans for Rabbit's daughter's future, the story flashes back to Rabbit's teen years.  It was during this time that the Hayes family watched the decline and eventual death of a beloved family friend with whom Rabbit grew up and loved very much.  And this person is ever present in Rabbit's thoughts as she herself nears the end of her life.

If you have read McPartlin's other novels, I highly recommend this one.  There's drama, there's humor, and there are (a lot of) tears.  The characters are vivid, unique, and lively.  And if you've never read any of McPartlin's novels, I highly recommend you start with this one.  You won't regret it.  Just keep the kleenex close by.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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