Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
Cindy: Do you need a good book for your mother/daughter book club? How about this one? “Four women traveling on a midnight car journey: one of them dead, one of them dying, one of them driving, and one of them just starting out.” Greyhound of a Girl (Amulet 2012) is my favorite kind of book…an intergenerational story that makes you laugh and cry. Mary O’Hara is twelve, soon to be a teenager, and her best friend has moved 7 stupid kilometers away to another part of Dublin and her older brothers are useless as companions. They are “boring and weird…they laughed a lot and never explained why.” Mary and her mother Scarlett make a daily visit to the horrid hospital to visit Granny, who is dying, but who smiles big when her daughter and granddaughter show up.
Things get more complicated when an old woman approaches Mary in the neighborhood. When Mary tells her mother about her, she is startled by the name and asks to meet this new “neighbor.” Yes, Tansey is Mary’s great-grandmother…and she needs Mary’s help to deliver a message to her dying daughter. Tansey died of the flu at the age of 25, leaving a young daughter behind, and she has never passed on completely. Now she has a chance to be a mother and to help her scared daughter to leave this life behind. What follows is a funny and moving story of how they accomplish that.
Doyle is a master of dialogue and these characters walked into my heart with their cheekiness and their pet phrases, sure. The bond between mothers and daughters runs strong, and is not always smooth, but Mary is watching and learning…and the love and connection between generations will shape her and her future relationships. I’d like to hang with her and watch. These four women make me ache to take my own road trip with them, I’m not ready to leave them behind. And, what’s not to love about a ghost who can provide ice cream cones in the middle of the night. It was grand.
Lynn: This is a lovely story and one that begs to be read slowly so that the reader can float along with the rhythm of the dialog. This is one of those stories where not a whole lot happens – no kidnappings, battles or car chases. Rather it is reflective and gentle, with a timeless theme and pacing. Life and death and family stories – the sort that are told again and again. I appreciate this book and understand the device of telling and retelling as family stories are told and retold but I’ll be honest – it was a bit too slow for me and I found myself feeling a bit impatient with the third repetition of Emer’s story. But that is my fault and not the book’s as I readily admit that I have the reading taste of a 12-year-old boy. But my interest picked up when the 4-generation road trip began and from then on I was firmly hooked right through to the sweet and reassuring ending. As Cindy says – this would be an ideal book for a mother-daughter book club! Twelve-year-old Mary’s thrill at realizing not only that she was part of this circle but that she too was a woman now is not to be missed.