Rabbit Hayes is a funny, intelligent, caring mother, sister and daughter. We meet Mia "Rabbit" Hayes as she is being moved to hospice. After several years, her battle with cancer is coming to an end. Rabbit's family is devastated, but they are there to help Rabbit and her twelve year old daughter, Juliet. Rabbit's parents have been there through it all, but are struggling with the fact that their forty year old daughter will die before them. Grace, Rabbit's older sister, is heartbroken at the thought of losing her and struggles to hold it together for her own brood. Davey, Rabbit's brother, is a musician who has been touring in the States with a mega county star for years. He returns to Ireland heartbroken at the thought of losing his baby sister. Together the family surrounds Rabbit with love as they try to make her last days as comfortable and peaceful possible. But underneath the surface of tranquility is a family coming to grips with the pending death of a beloved member. And one important detail still needs to be dealt with - who will care for Juliet after Rabbit passes?
There is no spoilers involved with saying that Rabbit Hayes is going to die. After all, the title will give you that much. From the title you might think that The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a book about Rabbit. And to a certain degree it is, but mostly the book is about her family and how they are coming to grips with her imminent death. Even when surrounded by heartbreak, the Hayes family is pretty dern funny. Like the way Rabbit's mom was trying to sneak a priest in for the last rites, which Rabbit had forbidden. I busted out laughing. I felt her heartache the most, she was not going to leave her daughter's side for nothing, not even when she had a minor heart attack herself. Her dad, oh her dad, he had the hardest time coming to grips with Rabbit's fate. Yet he tries to remain strong for Rabbit and the rest of the family. Grace handles her feelings by throwing things. Like coffee mugs - at her husband. And then there is Davey, the rolling stone of the family who turns out to be the most stable one when it comes to handling Juliet. The story is told in both the past and the present. It is in the past that we get to "meet" Juliet's father and you start to understand just how much Rabbit has lost in her life. The book ends in just the way you would expect, given the title, and it is going to make you cry. There is no way around it, but you will also find yourself at peace with the end, much like the rest of the Hayes family. Rabbit had a good life and a good death.
Bottom line - in honor of St. Patrick's Day this week, I wanted to read a book by one of my favorite Irish authors, Anna McPartlin. The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes will make you laugh and it will most certainly make you cry. All of those emotions are indicative of a well written book about a wonderful family and the woman they are losing. Such a good read and worthy of your attention.