Her cancer is back, and all the love, humor, and stubbornness in the world won’t save Rabbit Hayes this time.
When 40-year-old Mia Hayes was a little girl, Johnny Faye, her brother Davey’s friend, dubbed her “Rabbit” for the pigtails bunched on her head. The nickname stuck. Johnny was the lead singer in Davey’s band, the Kitchen Sink, and the love of Rabbit’s life. From Johnny’s defending Rabbit from school-age bullies through the rise and fall of Kitchen Sink—a fall perpetuated by Johnny’s terminal illness—theirs was a true and clear love. Now Rabbit faces her last days in hospice care as she approaches death from metastatic breast cancer. Surrounded by her raucous family and friends, Rabbit tries to rally. Jack, Rabbit’s father, is devastated not only that his youngest will die, but also that his wife, Molly, seems to have given up on Rabbit. Yet Molly rarely leaves her daughter's side. Davey returns to Dublin from America, mourning for his sister, but finds some comfort in playing a paternal role for his 12-year-old niece, Juliet, whose biological father disappeared well before Rabbit gave birth to her. Rabbit’s older sister, Grace, tries to buttress the family, and everyone descends upon Rabbit’s room, holding a rather hilarious wake before her death. Although the ties binding her to her family pull taut, it’s the memories of Johnny that beckon more strongly. In Rabbit’s dreams, the narrative slips back in time to tell the love story between Rabbit and Johnny. McPartlin (The Space Between Us, 2012, etc.) deftly balances Rabbit’s disappointment and her family’s grief with humor. She possesses impeccable timing, creating rhythms of conversation that can evoke the banter of screwball comedies as well as the mournful dirge of loss.
By turns laugh-out-loud funny and weep-into-your-hanky heartbreaking, Rabbit’s story is a powerful catharsis.