If you like charming, quirky books – and I love them – then you need to read Rabbit Cake. It got some starred reviews, was a “People Magazine Book of the Week,” and it lived up to all the hype.
Elvis Babbitt is the twelve year old girl at the heart of this book. Her mother, a scientist and professor, was a sleepwalker who accidentally drowned one night. Elvis’s father is dealing with his grief by wearing his wife’s robe and her lipstick. Elvis’s older sister Lizzie, always a rebellious, problematic teen, becomes even worse. Lizzie is also a sleepwalker and after her mother’s death, she becomes a sleep eater as well.
Elvis wants to continue her mother’s work, writing a book on the sleeping habits of animals. She is a very bright, very precocious child, to say the least, and for much of the book seems more mature than most of the adults in her life. The counselor at school tells Elvis that grief takes about 18 months to run its course, and Elvis takes her at her word and creates a grief chart to help her cope.
There are lots of quirky goings on throughout the story, from the Jesus statue made from beach debris that arrives one day, the bird that imitates the mother’s voice perfectly, to Lizzie’s baking 1000 rabbit cakes to get into the Guinness Book of World Records, and much, much more.
The characters are so well developed I couldn’t help but be drawn into their world and I was sad to leave them at the end of the book. This was a most enjoyable read, esepcially if you like family stories. The quirkiness is sure to appeal to readers who loved Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and Frederik Backman fans.
6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
RABBIT CAKE by Annie Hartnett. Tin House Books (March 7, 2017). ISBN 978-1941040560. 344p.