RABBIT CAKE

Annie Hartnett

An Indies Introduce Pick and People Magazine Book of the Week!

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.

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An Indies Introduce Pick and People Magazine Book of the Week!

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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  • Tin House
  • Paperback
  • March 2017
  • 344 Pages
  • 9781941040560

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$15.95

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About Annie Hartnett

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. Annie 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. 

Author Website

Praise

“A brilliant book . . . How a whip-smart young girl handles the loss of her mother and the reorientation of her family; charming and beautifully written.”Kirkus ReviewsStarred Review

“In Hartnett’s winning debut, a memorable young narrator’s desire for rationality wrestles with her grief. . . . Affecting.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“In this whimsical and utterly original debut…this is one family that veers towards the depths but is finally, joyously redeemed.”—Library JournalStarred Review

Discussion Questions

1. What did you think of Mrs. Bernstein’s therapy sessions? Is she a good guidance counselor?

2. Do you think it helped or hurt Elvis to have the grieving chart? Do you think 18 months is a realistic time to spend grieving someone?

3. Do you Elvis empathizes more with animals than she does with humans? Why?

4. The parrot, Ernest Hemingway, becomes a key member of the family. What did you think of the parrot’s role in the family?

5. Why did Lizzie bake rabbit cakes? Was it really about the Guinness World Record?

6. Should the father have gone to get Lizzie after she ran away with Soda? What would you have done if you were Lizzie’s parent?

7. Vanessa is a self-proclaimed pathological liar. Do you think she’s the only character in the book that lies? How reliable are the stories that the characters tell?

8. What did you think of the religious elements in the book, such as the Ocean Jesus statue and the mother’s belief in reincarnation? Did religion help Elvis cope with her mother’s death?

9. Should the Babbits have had a proper funeral for the mother? Was that a mistake that the father made?

10. Elvis has felt overshadowed by Lizzie her entire life. How did Elvis come in to her own by the end of the novel? How did she become her own animal?

11. What do you think the Babbitts will be up to in 20 years from now? What will Elvis be like as an adult?