Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett had been on my radar for quite awhile, so I finally bought it on a trip to my local independent bookstore. Then...it sat on my shelf for the better part of a year. Nevertheless, I finally picked it up at the end of October and devoured it in a matter of days. I now regret every month that Annie Hartnett's quirky, heartwarming characters weren't in my brain. It is easily one of my favorite books of 2017.
"Twelve-year-old 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."
First things first, Elvis Babbitt is a marvelous narrator. She is an endearing mix of child and scientist, and her view of the world is both enlightening and naive. More than anything, though, she is ridiculously entertaining. Even when the plot of the story feels a little thin--because the plot does take a backseat to the characters--you don't mind a bit because the world through Elvis' eyes is fascinating. She is a child grappling with very adult issues, though she oftentimes seems like the only character in the book equipped to handle the tragedy life has dealt the Babbitt family.
With a character who makes over 1,000 rabbit-shaped cakes to break a world record, a parrot who can perfectly mimic the voice of Elvis' deceased mother, and a statue of Jesus made out of ocean trash and seashells, quirky is the one and only word I can use to adequately describe this book. If you love Where'd You Go, Bernadette or any character from any Wes Anderson movie ever (Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop from Moonrise Kingdom spring to mind), I have no doubt you'll love Rabbit Cake.
I'm not going to continue to gush (though I really really could), because every minute you spend reading this review is another minute you waste not reading this book. I have nothing negative to say about it. Zero complaints. NONE. And if you know me, you know that is rare. I love to complain. So, seriously, you must get your hands on this one in whatever format you can (legally, of course, because Annie Hartnett deserves all the royalties and stealing is wrong). Rabbit Cake has secured its place as one of my absolute favorites, and I hope it will be one of yours, too.
Have you read Rabbit Cake? Thoughts? What are some of your favorite quirky books? Let me know in the comments.