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Tin House Galley Club: Rabbit Cake


Tin House invited a select number of early readers to receive advance copies of Rabbit Cake, Annie Hartnett’s much-anticipated debut novel. It’s the darkly funny story of Elvis Babbitt, proud ZooTeen volunteer and Freedom, Alabama resident, who’s figuring out her place in a world without her mother. We caught up with our Galley Club members to talk about the book, how its characters navigate grief, and (most importantly) naked mole rats.









 If you liked Rabbit Cake, you’d also like __________.

  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  • The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  • Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles
  • Glaciers by Alexis Smith
  • The Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney


s“Anything else you’d like to say about Rabbit Cake?” we asked. Galley Club answered. Here is a sampling of their responses:

“I laughed and cried while sitting in the middle seat on an airplane.”

“Part mystery, party family drama, Rabbit Cake is touching & laugh-out-loud funny. It will break your heart in the best way.”

“Favorite book of the last 5 years. Must read. Authentic voice and narrative. Charming characters.”

“Elvis is awesome…but grieving is hard. #rabbitcake #heartfelt #lovehaterelationships”

“I love the character of Elvis. Her earnestness mixed with both pragmatism and idealism is spot on for a young girl who is trying to make sense of a loss without an anchoring adult in her life.”

“Elvis’s view of the world brought me back to being her age and I found myself wondering how I would react to many of her situations. The characters are incredibly relatable. It was easy to form a connection with all of them, especially Elvis. Elvis is a very special, smart girl, with the mind of a scientist and the innocence of youth.”

“Elvis was getting on my nerves toward the 1/3 mark. But, in the end, I think the author did a really good job of having Elvis’ voice grow throughout the book.”

“I had myself so geared for a tragic ending that I almost quit reading a couple times because I didn’t think I could handle any more heartache. I am so glad that I didn’t give up hope as the ending was all it could have been and a delightful surprise. The story hit and satisfied every emotional button.”

“Some content arguably a little mature for YA readers, but then again these are topics young teens do have to wrangle with—even the messy stuff like mental health and parental strife.”

“A funny-sweet slice-of-life novel about a smart kid mourning her mom with a little Steel Magnolias around the edges.”

“Didn’t know I needed a quirky, hilarious book about grief and mental illness. Thank you, Annie Hartnett!”

“Elvis. Boomer. Naked mole rats. ::swoon:: What a lovely, quiet story about life after death and the ones left behind.”

“Sweet delight of a page turner re: sleepwalkers, grief, childhood. And lots of cake!”

Rabbit Cake: A quirky, rollicking read, full of pain and grief that somehow manages to leave you feeling fulfilled.”


Annie Hartnett is the author of Rabbit Cake. She was the 2013-2014 Writer in Residence for the Associates of the Boston Public Library, and currently teaches at Grub Street, an independent writing center in Boston. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with her husband and border collie.

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