The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty: A review
Set in the dying (fictional) town of Vacca Vale, Indiana, The Rabbit Hutch introduces us to four teenagers who share an apartment in the housing development officially named La Lapiniere Affordable Housing Complex but more familiarly known as "The Rabbit Hutch." They are Blandine, Jack, Todd, and Malik, all 18 or 19 and recently aged out of the state's foster care system.
As a bit of an aside, we also get to know of a plan to develop an area adjoining Vacca Vale, a place called Chastity Valley. As a further aside, we learn about a child star from a 1960s sitcom. But always at the center of the story is Blandine, once known as Tiffany.
Blandine is a brilliant and talented high school dropout who is fixated on the lives of female mystics and saints. The events of her story take place over five days from July 15 through July 19 in some unstated year. The book is divided into five parts and the various chapters in each part are told from the perspective of one of the characters.
We see Blandine as very much alone in the world in spite of all the people around her. Moreover, she is obsessed with the idea of saving that world. She is essentially a very idealistic and hopeful character. Her hero is Hildegard of Bingen, "prophet, composer, botanist, abbess, theologian, doctor, preacher, philosopher, writer, saint, Doctor of the Church. A veritable polymath." She strives to live up to that image.
There were a lot of characters in this book and I found it a bit difficult to keep up with them all and to keep them all separate in my mind. Some of the guys just seemed to blend together. Those guys were part of several different storylines, and again, I found it hard to follow them all while keeping these characters individualized in my mind. (I admit that may be a shortcoming of my mind!)
This book was well-written. Tess Gunty definitely has a way with words. My only criticism really is that it felt to me as if she was trying to do too much here. Maybe she could stick to one storyline and a smaller cast of characters next time. I would definitely like to read that book!