I can’t remember the last time I sobbed during a book. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever sobbed while reading a book.
Until this one.
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle is a heartbreakingly beautiful tribute to the relationship between grandmothers, moms, and daughters disguised as a young adult novel. This book is YA lit (I picked it up at my school’s library), but the power this book holds is much bigger than one genre.
The book centers on Mary, a twelve-year-old Irish girl, whose best friend has just moved away. One day while walking home from school, a young woman stops her to talk. This woman looks different, but Mary can’t place why.
Every day after school, Mary rides to the hospital with her mom, Scarlett, to visit her dying grandmother, Emer. As the book developes, you learn about Mary and Scarlett’s relationship, Emer’s fears and struggles, and Emer’s mother that died too young, Tansey.
There is a ghost involved in this book, but at no point was it cliches of ghosts and spirits–as a reader, I accepted the ghost quickly and moved on with the story. The story needed a good ghost from the past and so there it is.
I loved this book’s dialogue and rhythm. Set in Ireland, the speech is different enough that you notice, but not enough to care.
I was shocked at the end to realize that Roddy Doyle was a man. I just assumed that a book like this had to be written by a mother or a daughter, someone who has been in a relationship of that magnitude and felt that story deserved to be told. I was blown away when I realized Roddy was male.
Please read A Greyhound of a Girl. It is a precious book about relationship, families, and things coming full circle. You won’t regret it.
“We’ll cry,” she said. “And then we’ll stop. Because it’s only a house.”
“She’s right,” said Tansey. ” “Tis a pity, but nothing else and nothing more.”
She stood at the gate and sobbed–although ghosts weren’t supposed to. And Mary understood: it wasn’t the old house they were crying about. Not really. It was for themselves they were crying, their endings and starts. There were four of them tonight, but who knew how many there’d be tomorrow night? Two of them had lived in that old roofless house. Two of them now lived in a different house, a house with a roof, in Dublin.
Four of them stood together, holding one another. But only three of them actually lived.