The Rabbit Hutch

Knopf. Aug. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780593534663. $28. F
DEBUT Gunty’s first novel is a weirdly absorbing read that captures the heart and soul of a Rust Belt town. In this case, the town is Vacca Vale, IN, presumably a fictionalized South Bend, IN, with Gunty probing the history of a dying place that closely resembles her hometown. Gunty homes in on an odd assortment of individuals living in a rundown apartment complex derisively dubbed The Rabbit Hutch. Principal among them is Blandine. A young high school dropout, just out of foster care and fascinated by Hildegard of Bingen, Blandine has been recovering from a relationship with her drama teacher when she comes to live with three young men. These four young people are all awakening to their potential, even if that may lead to destruction and violence. The story’s mystery and beauty are driven by Blandine’s narrative—and the brutal stabbing at the novel’s commencement—but Gunty also deftly weaves in the stories of the other residents. Each character is plagued by loneliness, secrets, and unfulfilled aspirations that the novel reveals through masterly prose and imaginative depictions.
VERDICT A woefully beautiful tale of a community striving for rebirth and redemption; highly recommended.
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