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Rabbit Cake

Cover of Rabbit Cake

Rabbit Cake

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People Magazine Book of the Week

An Indies Introduce and Indie Next Pick

Fans of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette and and Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang will delight in Annie Hartnett's debut, a darkly comic novel about a young girl named Elvis trying to figure out her place in a world without her mother.

Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest living rodent. She knows she should plan to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly eighteen months. But there are things Elvis doesn't yet know—like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother's silk bathrobe around the house. Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother's death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people (and animals) of Freedom, Alabama. As hilarious a storyteller as she is heartbreakingly honest, Elvis is a truly original voice in this exploration of grief, family, and the endurance of humor after loss.

People Magazine Book of the Week

An Indies Introduce and Indie Next Pick

Fans of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette and and Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang will delight in Annie Hartnett's debut, a darkly comic novel about a young girl named Elvis trying to figure out her place in a world without her mother.

Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest living rodent. She knows she should plan to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly eighteen months. But there are things Elvis doesn't yet know—like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother's silk bathrobe around the house. Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother's death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people (and animals) of Freedom, Alabama. As hilarious a storyteller as she is heartbreakingly honest, Elvis is a truly original voice in this exploration of grief, family, and the endurance of humor after loss.
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About the Author-
  • Annie Hartnett was the 2013-2014 winner of the Writer in Residence Fellowship for the Associates of the Boston Public Library and has received awards and honors from the Bread Loaf School of English, McSweeney's, and Indiana Review. Hartnett received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Alabama, an MA from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English, and currently teaches at Grub Street, an independent writing center in Boston. She lives with her husband and their beloved Border Collie in Providence, Rhode Island.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 9, 2017
    In Hartnett’s winning debut, a memorable young narrator’s desire for rationality wrestles with her grief. Elvis’s mother once marked every milestone by baking a rabbit-shaped cake, but the year Elvis turns 10, without any fanfare, mom sleepwalks into the river and drowns. Having been told by her therapist that 18 months is the normal amount of time to grieve, Elvis, who makes sense of her world of Freedom, Ala., through research and observation, sets out to record her own grieving process. Complicating her recovery, however, is her older sister, Lizzie, who has also taken up sleepwalking, sleep eating, and even more dangerous behavior. Like many novels with child narrators, Hartnett’s quirky, Southern-tinged debut relies heavily on Elvis’s relative naïveté for dramatic irony. Matter-of-fact Elvis, however, is no mere victim. Her relationship with animals, in particular, rings true—she volunteers at the local zoo—and her story is affecting, exploring how a fragile but precocious girl strives to define herself after a tragedy. Agent: Katie Grimm, Don Cogdon Associates.

  • Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Looking for Me Heartbreak and dark comedy fuse together in this endearing story of family dysfunction and loss. I cheered for young Elvis Babbitt and the entire cast of quirky characters as they stumbled along a twisted path toward healing.
  • Pete Mock, McIntyre's Books The most enjoyable novel I've read since Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore!
  • Courtney Flynn, Trident Rabbit Cake bursts with life, at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. Annie has written rich characters who walk off the page, bending, changing, and growing as time moves them past the tragedy of their mother's death. We get to see the world through a wholly individual little girl named Elvis only the way a child can see the world—innocent, fresh and open. The strangeness of this story (think rabbit shaped cake obsessions and Jesus statues made out of sea shells) rings so true because of Annie's grasp of the complicated balance of what makes characters human. The pages turn themselves, and what a delight it was to keep up. Wonderful!
  • Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common Grief observed, explained, suffered and experienced by an eleven year-old girl...a very touching coming of age story. 
  • Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang Annie Hartnett's Rabbit Cake is fantastically original, a story about loss that expands in such exciting, unpredictable ways that I found myself completely won over by the unique Babbitt clan. Hartnett has such a gift for absurdity without ever losing the essential heart of the story. With this novel, she's become one of my favorite writers.
  • Amanda Ibarra, Fly Leaf Books In the Babbitt house bustling like a rabbit hutch, you'll find a cast of characters you simply will not forget: a sleep-eating sister and sleep-swimming mother, a father exploring femininity, a parental parrot, and a daughter named after Elvis Presley. By attempting to understand herself, Elvis frames her life in beautiful juxtapositions, her then-life with mom and now-life without her running deep and parallel. Honest with youth and grief, Elvis looks hard at what makes us human, perfectly mixing whimsy and absurdity. She exists at the intersection of science and wonder, willing to live in the face of death. Rabbit Cake is a cause for celebration.
  • Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books A delightfully original story in what is sure to be a beloved favorite of readers everywhere. 
  • Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett is a bookseller's dream of a novel—a smart, funny, thrilling ride alongside uniquely-drawn characters through a landscape at once familiar and refreshingly new. This is a gorgeous debut novel, bursting with empathy and spectacular talent, that I will happily press into the hands of customers. Like any fan of Ann Patchett will tell you, booksellers do it best, and Annie Hartnett, once a bookseller, always a bookseller, is further evidence of that.
  • Susan Hans O'Connor, Penguin Bookshop ...funny, smart, surprising, heartbreaking...
  • Rachel Kaplan, Avid Bookshop I hugged this book to my chest many times while reading it; that's how much I love it. Rabbit Cake is a sweet (and occasionally melancholic) tale of intrigue, full of heart, and with a lovable cast of characters. . . . An inimitable novel about grief, family, and the uncertainty that follows death, Rabbit Cake is a stunning debut of what will surely be a long and lustrous career for author Annie Hartnett.
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    Tin House Books
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Rabbit Cake
Rabbit Cake
Annie Hartnett
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