The story of the author confronting the lifelong impact of her mother’s murder...
“It’s too beautiful—the fingerprints with the alphabet in their cores, text and body and text, Rolland fighting through the law, me fighting through my words, my mother’s killer found through the power of language and grief,” writes the author, whose work as a teacher of creative writing shines through on every page. While the last third of the book follows the ensuing trial, much of the narrative involves Ervin’s psychological and emotional reactions and broader explorations of physical, sexual, and emotional violence, especially “how we shift blame to women for the violence against their own bodies.” Throughout, the author’s investigations of the concept of victimhood are insightful and urgent, and she demonstrates how “so many victims are silenced and excluded from the process” of punishing the perpetrators. Ervin laces the poetic text with unforgettable moments of startling, shattering honesty, many of which feel impossible to witness. This is the genius of the author’s prose and what makes this book remarkable: Ervin’s unflinchingly brutal gaze, combined with her insistence on facing the worst parts of her past, make it equally impossible for us to look away.
A devastating memoir about living with—and dying from—gender-based violence.
— Starred Kirkus Review
The death of a mother has lifelong effects on children, even more so when the loss is sudden and violent. Rabbit Heart depicts the effects of a mother’s murder on a young daughter’s development with searing honesty. By giving us rare access to the emotional, mental, and somatic aftermath of early loss, Kristine Ervin’s story represents the pain and triumphs of so many voiceless girls and women. This is a bravely honest, painfully beautiful book.
—Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters and The AfterGrief
There are some books that are written to avoid the brutality of the world and other books that capture with an uncanny clarity the inescapable truth. Kristine S. Ervin froze me in my tracks from the first page of her startling and transfixing memoir, a work fueled by a daughter’s undying love for her mother and a refusal to stay silent about violence. Rabbit Heart will stay with me forever.
—Michele Filgate, editor of What My Mother and I Don't Talk About
Rabbit Heart is an instant classic. Required reading for those who have been impacted by gendered violence, those who love them, and any who seek to interrogate the ways our culture, by design, makes certain bodies more vulnerable. Ervin writes with so much gutting love as to somehow translate the inarticulable into art. Enter preparing to be changed.
—Gina Frangello, author of Blow Your House Down
"Poet and essayist Ervin grapples in her moving debut memoir with the emotional damage caused by a parent’s violent death. . . . In lucid prose, Ervin unflinchingly documents her grief and untangles how her mother’s murder impacted myriad aspects of her life. This will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the last page."
— Publishers Weekly
Kristine Ervin’s RABBIT HEART, which I read in a single sitting, is a memoir of incredible power, forged out of equal parts terror and courage and an honesty so deep and profound it took my breath away. To say this book moved me is an understatement. It is a marvel — beautiful, heartbreaking, and so very, very healing.
—Lacy Johnson, author of The Other Side and The Reckonings: Essays
If seeing clearly is love, then Rabbit Heart is a love letter. Not only to the vital, irreplaceable force at the center of this book, or to the loved ones upended by her absence, but to all the lost women who have been brutally taken out of their lives. Uncompromising, politically charged, and alert to the shifting fault lines of family, Kristine Ervin knows that she can’t touch light without writing it all down first, reconstructing a tower with the brightest language in reach.
—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World
A deeply moving memoir. Throughout each nuanced essay-chapter, we watch our speaker encounter grief, examine grief, and ultimately transform abiding grief into abiding art. Rabbit Heart is an elegy to a lost mother, yes. It is also a profound meditation on patience, on healing, and a bildungsroman that carries us unforgettably into the speaker’s—and her family’s—bittersweet beyond.
—Julie Marie Wade, author of Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing and Otherwise: Essays