Well hell, excuse me while I go and mop up more of my tears. Mind you, they are both tears of laughter and sorrow! Of course, in the end, it is mainly sorrow that keeps those tears flowing, like great big weeping tears, but truthfully, the end was a beautiful and pitch perfect end. I couldn’t have imagined a better written final moment for Rabbit Hayes. That ending is what has me continuing to think about this book well into the next morning.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not spoiling anything for you, that title alone should give you a great big idea of what the book is going to be about. But I don’t think what you’ll get from that title is how wonderfully humorous and deeply touching the read is inside of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes.
I stayed up late to finish, and in fact, I spent most of one entire day with this book – with the Hayes family: with Rabbit, Molly and Jack, Davey, Juliet, Grace, and Johnny. I had to scurry down into my laundry room and close the door and finish it so that I wouldn’t be found weeping over a book (although it’s not that far out of the ordinary to be found weeping over a book or a movie by me from my familiy). The last time I wept this much at an ending to a book was probably for JoJo Moyes’ Me Before You.
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes takes place over 9 days, the final 9 days of Rabbit’s life. She is just entering the hospice and must come to terms with the reality that this will be the end. Not only is it for Rabbit to come to terms with these final days, but for the whole family as well. This wonderful book is a look at how these final days with a beloved daughter, sister and mother affects her parents (Molly and Jack), her two siblings (Davey and Grace) and her 12-year-old daughter, Juliet. While Rabbit is in hospice, she is in and out of sleep frequently and takes us along a memory journey with her greatest and only love, Johnny Faye.
Johnny was her brother Davey’s best friend and lead singer for their rock band, Kitchen Sink. Johnny is the one to give Mia her nickname of Rabbit (for how she would push up her thick glasses and her pigtail bunches at the side of her head). Rabbit adored Johnny and followed him everywhere and he was the one to tell her at an early age she would bloom into a beautiful woman. When she falls into her deep sleeps (coming more and more frequently as her body slowly gives away and brings her closer to her final days) she begins dreaming of those days with Johnny, the band, and her unconditional love for him. There’s a small twist here too – Johnny has already passed away from a disease he battled from a young age.
But for Molly and Jack, Rabbit’s entering the hospice is akin to giving up on her. They have fought a long and hard battle right alongside Rabbit and are desperate to continue the fight. They cannot concede defeat for they feel, mostly for her father Jack, that it looks like they don’t want to keep fighting for her. For Davey, the brother that has long been in the US on tour with a country singer, Rabbit’s final days are a kind of growing up for him. He needs to gain hold of some much needed maturity and see how he can help the sister that he so adores. For the other sister, Grace, it is coping with her 4 sons and being by Rabbit’s side. For her daughter, there is so much for Juliet to come to terms with. Heartbreaking! All examine the inconceivable…what life will be like without their beloved Rabbit.
I found myself laughing out loud on one page and then turning the page and wiping tears from my face. McPartlin has a fantastic way of making a very heavy subject light and steeped in humour. There are just as many heartbreaking, heart wrenching and tender moments in there as there are very humorous, laugh-out-loud moments. In all honesty, what a beautiful book this was!
There are only a few moments where Rabbit’s entries to her blog are shared with the reader and you kind of wish there were more to enjoy. This however is just a small and teeny tiny issue, almost irrelevant though. And when you get to the end, the end that Rabbit has slowly been leading us up to, your heart will burst and leave you reaching for a giant box of tissues. But as I said at the beginning of this post – it is a PERFECT end. Oh my goodness it was so perfectly written. I cried my eyes out. (I’m wiping tears right now too.)