Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
I have loved Roddy Doyle's work from the time I first saw The Commitments as a teenager. After watching the movie, I tracked down many of his books and raced through them. Recently, I found The Rover Adventures and read them to my kids (these are hilarious, you can read my review here). Needless to say, when I had the opportunity to read his latest book, A Greyhound of a Girl, I jumped at it even before I knew what it was about.
This is the story of four women, Mary, her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Mr. Doyle weaves their stories together in a sensitive and touching way. Even though Mary's grandmother is dying, this story is not morbid. She is scared of dying and the ghost of her own mother appears to help her. It really is lovely storytelling and leaves the reader with a sense that everything is grand. In one scene, Mary's mother is talking to the ghost of her grandmother, saying how she'll miss her mother (Emer) when she is gone:
"When you want to see your mother, look at your own face in the mirror," she said. "Or look at Mary's face. Or Mary's daughter's face. Emer will be in there. You'll see. And so will I. And so will you. And so will Mary." (p. 190-191)I was taken with the book right from the first pages. Mr. Doyle has a way with language and phrasing that always draws me in. His descriptions captured me right away and he sets up a fun, mysterious start to the book. I also love how Mr. Doyle weaves the stories of the four lives together.
There is also a quirky humour throughout the book. Here's one of the passages that made me laugh out loud:
She got out the way while Mary whisked the eggs. Mary's hand was a blur, and specks of egg yolk were hitting the wall, like yellow flies committing suicide. (p. 15)Fans of Irish storytelling will enjoy this book. What could be a scary or maudlin book is funny and normal and honours the lives that have passed. Middle school and young adult readers who like sensitive stories will enjoy this, or it would be a great one to read out loud.
Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley for review.