by Roddy Doyle
Amulet Books, New York, 2012. First published in the United Kingdom in 2011.
A Greyhound of a Girl is a sweet story of four generations of Irish women. The book starts with twelve-year-old Mary, who feels guilty that she hates the hospital, where her dear granny is dying. Then one day, Mary meets a mysterious woman.
The woman was old. But, actually, she wasn’t. Mary knew what it was, why the woman seemed old. She was old-fashioned. She was wearing a dress that looked like it came from an old film, one of those films her mother always cried at. She looked like a woman who milked cows and threw hay with a pitchfork. She was even wearing big boots with fat laces.
After meeting the woman a few more times, Mary learns she’s her granny’s mother, Tansy, who died when Granny was three years old. Mary’s mother gets pulled into the story, and we end up with their interwoven tales culminating in a four-generation road trip, with one of the generations dead and another dying.
The story isn’t morbid, and it’s all told on the level of things children will find interesting. We look at the previous generations through the eyes of childhood and current times through Mary’s eyes. Through it all, there’s the flavor of Ireland. I like that they didn’t change the language drastically for American readers. They’ll quickly get the idea that when things are “grand,” they’re going well. And they’ll learn the meaning of “cheeky.”
This is a book that will remind you of the ways life is grand and family is grand.
Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/greyhound_of_a_girl.html
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