Rabbit Ears by Maggie De VriesRabbit Ears by Maggie De Vries

Rabbit Ears

byMaggie De Vries

Paperback | March 18, 2014

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A brave and unflinching look at one vulnerable young woman living on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Kaya is adopted, multiracial, grieving the death of her father—and carrying a painful secret. Feeling ill at ease with her family and in her own skin, she runs away repeatedly, gradually disappearing into a life of addiction and sex work. Meanwhile, her sister, Beth, escapes her own troubles with food and a rediscovered talent for magic tricks. Though both girls struggle through darkness and pain, they eventually find their way to a moment of illumination and healing.

This powerful YA novel is rooted in the tragic life of the author’s sister, Sarah, a victim of serial killer Robert Pickton and the subject of Maggie de Vries’s Governor General’s Literary Award–nominated memoir for adults, Missing Sarah. Sarah’s tragic experiences inspired the character Kaya, as well as an adult sex worker she meets on the streets. Vancouver’s missing women form a chilling backdrop for the story.

MAGGIE DEVRIES’s latest novel,Hunger Journeys, won the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize and was called “historical fiction at its best” by CM Magazine. She has written eight other works for young readers, as well as one book for adults,Missing Sarah. A former children’s book editor and writer-in-residence for the Vancouver P...
Title:Rabbit EarsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:240 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.6 inShipping dimensions:8.5 × 5.5 × 0.6 inPublished:March 18, 2014Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1443416622

ISBN - 13:9781443416627


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important book When I finished this book all I could think was wow. Just wow! Even though Kaya’s story is fiction, the author has weaved in true stories of Vancouver’s missing women and that builds up such an emotional response in the reader. The characters of Rabbit Ears have their own deep, dark painful secrets; the more you read, the closer you are to figuring out what those are. I couldn’t help asking myself is this the story of a survivor or someone who couldn’t get out. Rabbit Ears is an incredible book and the author brings alive some very important issues, including but not limited to: Vancouver’s missing women, drug addiction, sex work and teen runaways. This is a must-read, something that shows you can help break the silence and bring awareness. A discussion opener. I couldn’t immediately get into the book. The format and writing style surprised me so it was hard to convince myself to continue reading. I’m so glad I did because once I got into it, I couldn’t stop. Later on, deep into the book, I started reflecting on the writing. Rabbit Ears is split into two POV’s: Kaya’s and her older sister, Beth’s. Within each chapter, there are a lot of page breaks; short entries like you’d find in a journal or diary. What’s really interesting (I didn’t immediately see the difference) is that Kaya’s POV is in second person while Beth’s is in third person. This means that instead of Kaya referring to herself as “I”, she uses “you”. This has a few implications. For the reader, it fits with the idea that by reading this, you provide a space for Kaya’s story. It could even mean that an Outsider is telling Kaya’s story because for some reason Kaya herself isn’t able to. This worried me about how the book would end, as I mentioned before. For Kaya herself, the “you” creates a wall – it’s easier to tell your story if you’re looking at yourself from far away. The entire format of the book is a perfect fit for the story. I loved the different perspectives of Kaya and Beth. Kaya, Beth and their mother are grieving the loss of their father, who passes away from cancer before the book begins. This seems to set off the events happening in Rabbit Ears. Kaya is adopted and multiracial; with little to no friends in school, she is constantly dealing with bullying and racism. She ends up meeting Sarah, a sex worker and heroin addict, in Vancouver’s Eastside. Sarah saves her and tries to warn her of the dangers. She herself doesn’t believe she can get out, but Kaya has a home and a family. Sarah views Kaya as a survivor, someone who can be saved, someone who doesn’t belong in this world of sex trafficking and addiction. The fact that the author has written in her own sister, Sarah (who was a victim of serial killer Robert Pickton) as a character makes the novel all the more powerful and moving. We don’t see Beth’s POV as much as Kaya’s, but we do see enough. I would say Beth takes up the tough love approach when it comes to how she and her mom deal with Kaya. Beth doesn’t understand why Kaya would do this – hurt their family and runaway from home. She thinks their mom is too lenient on Kaya. Beth is also embarrassed by what’s going on, not wanting her friends to find out. However, Beth is also worried for Kaya. After all, they are still sisters and I felt like throughout the novel, Beth really comes through. This bond of sisterhood is strong. This book is shorter than my usual reads, but the length doesn’t diminish the plot. If you feel like this book will make you uncomfortable because you’ve never experienced what these characters go through, I recommend you read this. This book opens your eyes, it makes the unbelievable very real. Fortunately, I’ve never had to experience what Kaya and other characters go through. I know these things can and do happen to women, but reading this book actually opened my eyes. So if you’re reading this book or you’ve read it and think “how can this even be real”, stop and reflect. Kaya’s story is fiction, but her story is representative of so many victims. There is truth between the lines.
Date published: 2016-11-09

Editorial Reviews


"De Vries has done a masterful job of creating a believable world peopled with characters whose loyalties are agonizingly divided between family, friends and nation." -QUILL & QUIRE

"One of de Vries's themes for the teen reader is that trying times bring out the best and the worst in people. Her protagonist is a dynamic model of courage during great difficulty." -VANCOUVER SUN