Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 1 day
Publisher - Zaffre
Source - Review Copy
Blurb from Goodreads
When forty-year-old Rabbit Hayes dies, she leaves behind a family broken by grief. Her mother Molly is distraught and in danger of losing her faith. Her father Jack spends hour upon hour in the family attic, poring over his old diaries, losing himself in the past.
Rabbit's brother Davey finds himself suddenly guardian to her twelve-year-old daughter Juliet. Juliet might be able to fill a hole in Davey's heart - but how can he help Juliet through her grief when he can barely cope with his own?
Meanwhile, Rabbit's sister Grace is struggling with the knowledge that she carries the same gene that made her sister ill, and Rabbit's best friend Marjorie is lost, struggling to remain a part of a family she has always wished was her own now that her link to them is gone.
But even though the Hayes family are all fighting their own battles, they are drawn together by their love for Rabbit, and their love for each other. In the years that follow her death they find new ways to celebrate and remember her, to find humour and hope in the face of tragedy, and to live life to its fullest, as Rabbit would have wanted.
Below a Big Blue Sky will make you laugh, cry and shout with joy for the colourful, unruly Hayes family as they battle with the loss of their beloved Rabbit, the daughter, mother, sister and friend, who in her own crazy way taught each of them how to live, and goes on showing them how to love from beyond the grave.
If you haven't read "The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes" stop, don't read this, go and read that THEN come back for this one. We pick up from where book one ended, Rabbit has passed on and her family are trying to pick up the pieces of the heartache and emptiness that Rabbit's death has left. Her mum and dad, her best pal, her brother, her sister, her wee girl Bunny and everyone who Rabbit's life touched. Davey (her brother) agreed to be Guardian to Bunny but Davey is a bit of a big wean himself, musician, travels and based far from Ireland - how can the family cope losing Rabbit and Bunny as Davey goes back to his own life.
Set in Ireland (mostly) the book deals with death, grief, loss and the families attempt to go through the stages of grief whilst attempting to go about their lives. Sadness, a touch of humour dottered throughout as with book one, a look at how each character is touched and tries to cope with life after death of a loved one.
I like McPartlin's books "The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes" was my first and blew me away, whilst I do enjoy her writing there is something about the Hayes family I just love. They are all characters, you feel like you have slipped into the family yourself, it's people you "know" and came to care for from book one. I don't know where she would go from here but I would LOVE a book three, I cannot get enough of this family, they are like your own. 4.5/5 for me - laughter, sadness, grief, hilarity McPartlin has created a world you just don't want to leave.
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