Hartnett’s novel has all of the enduring qualities of a literary classic. Freedom functions as the in-between town that seems to exist outside of space and time despite its specific geography. The Babbitt family, while quirky and esoteric, showcase familiar emotional tendencies and existential crises to which everyone can relate. Rabbit Cake thus finds universal comedic truths in the face of indomitable loss, reinvigorates the sensory thrill of childhood, and reveals how familial strength can help overcome individual grief.
Though this is a story about loss, Hartnett manages to bring humor and absurdity into it without losing focus through Elvis’ heartbreakingly honest voice. This is a truly terrific and original novel about grief, family, and finding hope in the aftermath.
Hartnett adeptly conveys a full picture of this family's emotional turmoil, tinged with the sincere hope of a child and the rising anxiety of an adolescent ... Teens who enjoyed the engaging voice of 11-year-old Flavia in Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie will love Elvis Babbitt.