Author: Roddy Doyle
Release date: This UK Paperback edition June 2012
Genre: Contemporary, Family story
Target audience: 9+
UK Publisher: Scholastic (Marion Lloyd)
Greyhound of a Girl is a story about family and about becoming a woman. If you’re feeling philosophical, you might say it’s a story about letting go and being open to change.
Mary is upset when her best-friend moves away but she’s consoled by the arrival of a woman in her street. But the woman who speaks like an old lady and dresses like she’s from an old movie is in fact youthful in appearance. Mary is not surprised to discover she is related to this lady and that the lady is in fact the ghost of her great-grandmother (not a spoiler, it states this in the blurb). Mary’s own grand-mother is in hospital – she’s dying of old age - and so Mary and her mum are trying to come to terms with the sad events to come.
This book has a lovely tone. The author has a distinctive voice and that shines through the setting and the characterisation. Each of the female figures has a similarity and yet a quality which sets them apart from one another. Mary has her cheekiness. Tansey has her old-fashioned dialect. Emer’s voice is from her childhood-self and then there’s Scarlett who likes to emphasize everything with exclamation marks. This seemed like a real skill to create four different sounding characters of a shared family and gender.
But at times I was still confused. I was a little overwhelmed by the four generations and all the grandmothers, mothers, great-grandmothers.I liked that this story was more about characters than action. It wasn’t a fast-paced, plot driven story but in essence is a story about being part of family, the history of your family’s past and also becoming a woman.
I didn’t quite understand why it all begins with Mary’s friend moving away. I do like things to come full circle in a book and so this felt to me like it was left hanging. I would have liked someone to move in next door or for Mary to get a letter. Just a tiny something to round it off.
Overall, Greyhound of a Girl is a beautifully written novel which has a heartfelt storyline and an unusual style.
Source: Borrowed from the school library.