Originally posted in The Fens – A FREE lifestyle magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens (for further information follow the link here), this is my review of the wonderful, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin, published by Black Swan.
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is exactly that – the last days of Rabbit (real name Mia) Hayes after a 4-year battle with breast cancer. But don’t let that put you off. Although heart breaking at times this is also a wonderfully funny, poignant and heartfelt story about family, friends, love and life.
The story begins at the end – so to speak. Rabbit is dying and there is nothing to be done, despite the best efforts of Rabbit’s parents, Jack and Molly, who never give up hope of finding a cure. However, that said, this is in no way a morbid or morose tale but rather a celebration of Rabbit’s life. For the most part, Rabbit remains upbeat, headstrong and admirably honest, especially via her blog, a tool that proves to be cathartic and helps her cope with the inevitably of her situation. The narration glides beautifully between past and present and as the story unfolds we discover Rabbit the girl maturing into Mia the woman. Like most individuals Rabbit has aspirations, hopes and dreams, some she fulfils and some she doesn’t.
Aside from Rabbit, we are introduced to many other wonderful, colourful characters including Juliet, Rabbit’s feisty young daughter – as a mother myself I deeply identified with the sadness Rabbit felt at having to leave her lovely daughter behind. Then there’s Jack, Rabbit’s dad, a man who clearly dotes on all his children and Rabbit’s mum, Molly, the resolute Irish Mammy – the big-hearted, hilariously funny, swearing matriarch of the family who keeps everything and everyone going. Then, of course, there’s Johnny Faye…the love of Rabbit’s life.
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is beautifully written, beautifully funny but also beautifully sad. It is not particularly informative about Rabbit’s illness but rather a story about how terminal illness can affect a family – including the fact that life goes on. There is no doubt you will need to have your hankies at the ready when reading this book, however, although this is a story addressing death, there can be no doubting the fact it is also about life. A life-affirming story about an ordinary life filled with love, laughter, music and some extraordinary relationships. Definitely one I’d recommend.