The author of The Gloaming returns with a novel about Rosie, a small-town teen who gets her big break with a scholarship to art school in New York City in the 1980s. There she meets Bennett, an older, seemingly wealthy man who sweeps Rosie off her feet and fathers her child. Not long afterward, Bennett spirits mother and child away to an isolated cabin in Vermont, where they must survive against steep odds.
This is not a cheery book, but like those Vermont woods in winter, it shimmers with a stark loveliness ... Part of the novel’s strength lies in its passionate portrait of Vermont. Rose views both the grandeurs and the terrors of the rural woods with an artist’s senses ... As well as painting a damning portrait of income inequality, Finn burnishes her credentials as an environmentalist ... enough to turn any reader into a vegan ... By the time a serial killer is on the loose, the novel has metamorphosed into a gritty, fast-paced thriller. For some readers, the novel’s last third may contain a plot twist (and brutal death) or two too many. This reader found a climactic story line involving an art heist unconvincing. But for the most part, Finn manages to make the two seemingly contradictory impulses of The Hare — the meditative character study and the densely plotted mystery — coexist. Finn is unafraid to address big moral questions — what D. H. Lawrence might write, if he lived in a world of Brett Kavanaugh hearings, cars with crushing repair bills and secret child pornography websites.
Finn’s prose has a painful beauty to it, the allure of the writing illuminated by the subtle horror of the plot ... It’s a timeless tale, repeated again and again: the cultural pressure that is driven into women to be obedient, to accept their role and what they are given, to finish what they have started even if that requires submission. Rules which are particularly applicable to romantic relationships. Yet Finn gives the familiar a fresh take that is much-needed for the present day, making it clear as the story progresses that Rosie has an inner strength, an instinct to endure and persevere; in short: she will be no victim ... Rosie is an unforgettable character who burrows her way deep into the reader’s heart where she will not be forgotten. You will feel for her, cheer for her, hope for her as you reflect upon how you also have been trapped by your own life decisions at one time or another. The Hare is the type of book you will appreciate even more after stepping away and reflecting upon it, as the tale lingers in the back of your mind.
This is a page-turner about a tough woman and her con-artist lout of a partner, and I will eat my laptop if it doesn’t get optioned for TV or film the minute it hits bookshelves. It is also woven through with ideas about feminism, parenting, narcissism, and self-sufficiency — a book that is easy to read without being remotely lightweight. It is published by Two Dollar Radio, a small press out of Columbus, Ohio, which I think of as the Barry Bonds of small presses: They hit an astonishing number of home runs.