Kristine S. Ervin


Rabbit Heart

A Mother's Murder, a Daughter's Story

A Washington Post “Most Anticipated” Book of the Year • A New York Times “Must Read”

For readers of My Dark Places and The Fact of a Body, a beautiful, brutal memoir documenting one woman’s search for identity alongside her family's decades-long quest to identify the two men who abducted—and murdered—her mother

"Melding true crime with memoir, Ervin reminds us of what happens when we conflate people with the transgressions committed against them—the collateral damage we inflict when we turn human beings into moral allegory . . . A powerful treatise on love and loss, on mothers and daughters, but it is also a warning to all of us who consume true crime." —The New York Times Book Review

Kristine S. Ervin was just eight years old when her mother, Kathy Sue Engle, was abducted from an Oklahoma mall parking lot and violently murdered in an oil field. First, there was grief. Then the desire to know: what happened to her, what she felt in her last terrible moments, and all she was before these acts of violence defined her life.

In her mother’s absence, Ervin tries to reconstruct a woman she can never fully grasp—from her own memory, from letters she uncovers, and from the stories of other family members. As more information about her mother's death comes to light, Ervin’s drive to know her mother only intensifies, winding into her own fraught adolescence. She reckons with contradictions of what a woman is allowed to be—a self beyond the roles of wife, mother, daughter, victim—what a “true” victim is supposed to look like, and, finally, how complicated and elusive justice can be.

Told fearlessly and poetically, Rabbit Heart weaves together themes of power, gender, and justice into a manifesto of grief and reclamation: our stories do not need to be simple to be true, and there is power in the telling.