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Rabbit Cake Paperback – March 7, 2017
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“[A] treasure. Books about grief are rarely funny and adorable―this one is.”
- People Magazine
“A brilliant book . . . How a whip-smart young girl handles the loss of her mother and the reorientation of her family; charming and beautifully written.”
- Kirkus, Starred Review
“In Hartnett’s winning debut, a memorable young narrator’s desire for rationality wrestles with her grief. . . . Affecting.”
- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“For your canon-coming-of-age-novel consideration: Meet Elvis Babbitt. A preteen whose mother recently drowned, Elvis is trying to understand the world around her. Funny and heartfelt, Rabbit Cake manages adult questions with a tween's sense of wonder. ”
- Marie Claire
“Darkly funny and soulful . . . Hartnett imbues Elvis with that capacity to be both self-aware and childlike that places her in a tradition of independent minded, motherless heroines ― from Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, to the eponymous Ellen Foster, and Ruth from Housekeeping. . . . Rabbit Cake is Elvis’s unpredictable story of healing, and the young woman at its center is immediately lovable because she is delightfully human.”
- The Boston Globe
“This is a truly terrific and original novel about grief, family, and finding hope in the aftermath.”
“With its dark humor, memorable voice, and quirky family focus, Rabbit Cake is a perfect read for the dog days of summer, one that can provide equal enjoyment for the most avid members of the literati and casual readers alike.”
- The Chicago Review of Books, "Best Books of 2017"
“Irresistible...[the book is] both gentle exploration of loss (Elvis’s mother, in the opening pages, has drowned) and quirkily funny coming-of-age tale, marking its Rhode Island-based author as a talent to watch.”
- The Seattle Times
“Heartbreak and dark comedy fuse together in this endearing story of family dysfunction and loss. I cheered for young Elvis Babbitt and the entire cast of quirky characters as they stumbled along a twisted path toward healing.”
- Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Looking for Me
“Hartnett has written a quirky, slightly magical coming-of-age story that will have your heart. She is a writer to watch.”
- Heidi Durrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
“Annie Hartnett's Rabbit Cake is fantastically original, a story about loss that expands in such exciting, unpredictable ways that I found myself completely won over by the unique Babbitt clan. Hartnett has such a gift for absurdity without ever losing the essential heart of the story. With this novel, she's become one of my favorite writers. ”
- Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang
“What makes this book shine is that [Elvis] is both completely believable as a child [and] a compelling narrator. The reader feels her grief, her curious hunger for the world, and also her disbelief that a world so abundant in wonder could take her mother away.”
- Book Riot, Best Books of 2017
“Readers will laugh and cry in turn at this touching novel about a little girl with a big heart.”
- Bookish, Best Books of Spring
“Darkly funny and endlessly smart, Rabbit Cake chases down the quivering heart of familial loss and reminds us there is no right way to grieve. There’s only showing up for it, and showing up for each other.”
- Ploughshares, "Must-Reads for 2017"
“12-year-old Elvis is a captivating character and the fantastically absorbing narrator of this stunning debut novel.”
- Read It Forward
“Fun emanates from virtually every element of [Rabbit Cake's] craft―its particular narratorial voice, crackling dialogue, vibrant cast of characters, vivid and unexpected imagery, absurdist moments, and plot that bounces along like its titular animal but still finds room for quiet contemplation.”
“In the Babbitt house bustling like a rabbit hutch, you’ll find a cast of characters you simply will not forget: a sleep-eating sister and sleep-swimming mother, a father exploring femininity, a parental parrot, and a daughter named after Elvis Presley. By attempting to understand herself, Elvis frames her life in beautiful juxtapositions, her then-life with mom and now-life without her running deep and parallel. Honest with youth and grief, Elvis looks hard at what makes us human, perfectly mixing whimsy and absurdity. She exists at the intersection of science and wonder, willing to live in the face of death. Rabbit Cakeis a cause for celebration.”
- Amanda Ibarra, Flyleaf Books
“Rabbit Cake bursts with life, at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. Annie has written rich characters who walk off the page, bending, changing, and growing as time moves them past the tragedy of their mother's death. We get to see the world through a wholly individual little girl named Elvis only the way a child can see the world―innocent, fresh and open. The strangeness of this story (think rabbit shaped cake obsessions and Jesus statues made out of sea shells) rings so true because of Annie's grasp of the complicated balance of what makes characters human. The pages turn themselves, and what a delight it was to keep up. Wonderful!”
- Courtney Flynn, Trident
“A delightfully original story in what is sure to be a beloved favorite of readers everywhere. ”
- Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books
“Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett is a bookseller's dream of a novel―a smart, funny, thrilling ride alongside uniquely-drawn characters through a landscape at once familiar and refreshingly new. This is a gorgeous debut novel, bursting with empathy and spectacular talent, that I will happily press into the hands of customers. Like any fan of Ann Patchett will tell you, booksellers do it best, and Annie Hartnett, once a bookseller, always a bookseller, is further evidence of that.”
- Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books
“The most enjoyable novel I’ve read since Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore!”
- Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Books
“I hugged this book to my chest many times while reading it; that’s how much I love it. Rabbit Cake is a sweet (and occasionally melancholic) tale of intrigue, full of heart, and with a lovable cast of characters. . . . An inimitable novel about grief, family, and the uncertainty that follows death, Rabbit Cake is a stunning debut of what will surely be a long and lustrous career for author Annie Hartnett.”
- Rachel Kaplan, Avid Bookshop
“…funny, smart, surprising, heartbreaking…”
- Susan Hans O’Connor, Penguin Bookshop
“Grief observed, explained, suffered and experienced by an eleven year-old girl…a very touching coming of age story. ”
- Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common
About the Author
Annie Hartnett was the 2013-2014 winner of the Writer in Residence Fellowship for the Associates of the Boston Public Library and has received awards and honors from the Bread Loaf School of English, McSweeney's, and Indiana Review. Hartnett received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Alabama, an MA from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English, and currently teaches at Grub Street, an independent writing center in Boston. She lives with her husband and their beloved border collie in Providence, Rhode Island.
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Top customer reviews
Her young heroine Elvis is my new hero. I've read it twice already and shared with friends. I seem to own three copies already, thanks to a first advanced copy. Buy two, you'll immediately want to share a copy with your dearest friend but won't want to give your own copy up.
I have a friend who is so delightful and dry in her humor. Elvis reminded me of her with her perspective of the happenings in her life and the way she expresses them. It seemed to me that comments would come out of left field and after they were within my grasp, I paused and studied them for awhile. You know how a puppy will tilt its head and look at you as if studying your intentions and words? Like they're not sure exactly what you are saying, but it requires tilting the head to knock it into place.
How can someone process their life is such a way and then express it to hit home in such a profound and poignant way?
I marvel at this story, the characters and the quirkiness of the happenings in each of the characters lives. Each character possesses a richness and authenticity, laced with a delicious dysfunction that makes all too much sense to the me ... the reader.
This book is an escape for all who seek to be teleported out of their normal, mundane, chaotic, unsettling or dysfunctional life and wish to submerge themselves into a place and time that gives them permission to see life through another perspective.
You'll give yourself permission to appreciate your own life because you'll realize that there is no such thing as "Normal" and perhaps you have a story of your own to tell that will be as delicious, epic and twisted as this one. It's all good, you know?
I have a soft spot for unconventional narrators, and 12-year old Elvis Babbitt is a true gem. Elvis is smart, strong and very funny (sometimes unintentionally). Elvis is grieving the recent loss of her mother. She’s the youngest but also the most grounded of the Babbitt family members. I appreciated her love of science and determination to get to the cause of her mother’s death. Of course, in life we can’t always find the answers we seek.
While their father flounders, Elvis’ older sister Lizzie deteriorates as she struggles with sleepwalking and destructive behavior. The story sparkles with truths about living with a loved one who has mental illness. It can make life unpredictable and painful at times, but it also makes you appreciate sweet moments and small triumphs all the more when they do finally arrive. (And why not celebrate by baking rabbit-shaped cakes?)
Beautifully-written and affecting, this novel will be kept on my special shelf of favorite books.
Elvis is one sharp pre-teen who is just trying to grieve. She is light years ahead of the counselor whom she sees at school who can’t seem to pry herself away from her own issues enough to help Elvis and is a stickler for rules when it comes to the stages of grief.
This book finds humor where there is not usually anything funny. It is quirky, warm and heart-mending, with characters who are truly unique. Whether or not you have experienced loss, I highly recommend this lovely book. This is a girl who had a mother who created a celebration of everyday life. Elvis is trying to find meaning now that her mother is gone. She has many doors to open. Including the oven door to the most delightful rabbit cakes. Note: I just found that Williams-Sonoma has a rabbit cake pan and it’s on sale!
But the voice of Elvis is funny, and tragic, and delightful. I laughed out loud several times, and I wanted to giver her a hug throughout. This book is compulsively readable. It's listed as 300+ pages, but I flew through it today, and recommended to a friend before I was half way through. You'll be hooked from the first paragraph - which is a doozy.
Highly, HIGHLY recommended.