a greyhound of a girl

Monday, August 26, 2013 |
I go to Ireland in less than a month!  It’s going to be fabulous!  I can’t wait for September!  And how am I progressing on my goal of reading all those Irish middle grade and young adult books anywa…?  Oh dear.  I fell off the wagon.   I’ve been so busy planning my actual trip and trying out Irish pub recipes that I’ve failed to read kid lit by Irish authors.  EXCEPT!  Look at this: today’s review qualifies!  Roddy Doyle’s A Greyhound of a Girl is a lovely, haunting little book – a ghost story with heart.  Set in Ireland.  By an Irish author.  I’m saved!

a greyhound of a girl by roddy doyle book cover
Mary O’Hara is a sharp and cheeky 12-year-old Dublin schoolgirl who is bravely facing the fact that her beloved Granny is dying. But Granny can’t let go of life, and when a mysterious young woman turns up in Mary’s street with a message for her Granny, Mary gets pulled into an unlikely adventure. The woman is the ghost of Granny’s own mother, who has come to help her daughter say good-bye to her loved ones and guide her safely out of this world. She needs the help of Mary and her mother, Scarlett, who embark on a road trip to the past. Four generations of women travel on a midnight car journey. One of them is dead, one of them is dying, one of them is driving, and one of them is just starting out.

Mary is a precocious girl whose best friend just moved away (such cruelty!) and whose beloved grandmother is in the hospital.  She's at the intersection of childhood and teenage angst, and she's that special mix of angry-at-the-world/loving/rude that goes along with upsetting life change.  Enter a ghost and the memories and perspectives of four generations of women in her family. The resulting interactions transform each woman, and show them the things that connect them all.

Doyle’s strength is his dialogue – it is funny, moving, and only contains the absolute necessary – there are no info-dumps or long, over-wrought passages full of description.  At the same time, this is not a spare, minimalist story – it is Just Right, as Goldilocks would say.  Really, beautifully, right.  It’s nominally fantasy (there’s a ghost!), but it reads a bit like Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls, the fantastical is woven into a very real, solid contemporary setting, with threads of the past woven in too with distinct narrators and voices.

In all, A Greyhound of a Girl is a lovely little book that impressed me with its depth, its sense of place, and its sentiment.

Recommended for: readers of all ages who appreciate funny, emotional fiction, fans of middle grade ghost stories, and anyone interested in Ireland as a setting for literary children’s fiction.


(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I do enjoy Roddy Doyle's books. Have a wonderful trip to Ireland, it's such a beautiful place.

Unknown said...

Never read Roddy Doyle, always keep thinking I should. Sounds like this will be the one I start with. Have a great trip!

Charlotte said...

I loved this one! And I hope you have a lovely trip (although probably I will find myself saying this again closer to the date...)

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