Tuesday 18 September 2012

262. A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Published September 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
12-year-old Mary's beloved grandmother is near the end of her life. Letting go is hard-until Granny's long-dead mammy appears. Her ghost has returned to help her dying daughter say goodbye to the ones she loves. But first she needs to take them all on a road trip to the past.
one of them is dead,
one is dying, 
one of them driving, 
one of them just beginning.

I must admit when I started reading this book , I expected an actual road trip. and I do so love a road trip book.  There's even a map in the front of the book showing you the journey.  While there is a road trip in this book, towards the end, the main journey the women go on is an emotional one, down memory lane.

This is a beautiful story of four generations of Irish women, Mary who is 12, her Mother Scarlett, Scarlett's Mother Emer who is in hospital and lastly Emer's Mother, Tansy who died when Emer was only 3 years old.  

Outside her house one day after school, Mary meets Tansy, who she thinks must be her new neighbour.  It comes to light that Tansy is not her new neighbour at all, but the ghost of her Great Grandmother.  She has come to see Emer, Mary's Granny who is dying.  The story is broken up into chapters where each of the women tell different stories from their lives.  Tansy as a young mother, who's death is sudden, Emer going back to visit the home of her childhood with her husband and daughter, and Scarlet seeing her Mother's sadness at being in her childhood home.

You would think that a fantastical novel like this may seem odd and unbelievable, but to me it doesn't.  Even Emer makes this comment when she meets the ghost of her mother Tansy:

"Are you really a ghost?"
"Oh, I am."
"And you're really my mother?"
"Yes," said Tansy. "I am."
"I'll tell you what is really weird then, " said Emer. 'I'm not all that surprised."

Yes the story is a bit sad, but what a great concept. It may sound a bit morbid, a ghost coming to visit her dying daughter who is now in her 80's, but it's far from that.  I couldn't think of anything better that having the women in my life who have died, come and visit, so we can have one last trip together to a place that meant something to us all.  Roddy Doyle is Irish, so you can imagine that the book feels as if these characters have popped over to your house for a cup of tea to tell you their story. 

See below for an interview with Roddy Doyle when the hardback was released in the UK last year.

Who will like this book: Girls age 11+
Read it if you like: 

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