Roddy Doyle, the Irish author of some of my favorite books, including Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha, and The Barrytown Trilogy (The Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van) has written a teen novel called A Greyhound of a Girl. I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy from the publisher and Netgalley for review.
Summary: A Greyhound of a Girl is the story of four generations of women. twelve-year-old Mary, has a lot on her mind. Her best friend has moved away and her gran, Emer, is on her deathbed in the hospital. Letting go is hard to do, until she meets a kind older lady on her way home from school one day. It turns out this familiar looking young woman with an odd manner of dress and speech is the ghost of her great-grandmother, Tansey. Tansey was a young mother when she died of the flu, leaving Mary’s gran motherless. Tansey never stopped watching out for her little girl and is eager to ease her daughter’s fears about dying, but she needs Mary and her mother, Scarlett to help. Together, they devise a plan for Tansey and Emer to meet and revisit the past as Mary and Scarlett prepare for a future without Emer.
My thoughts: The first words that come to mind to describe this short little book are charming and touching, but it’s missing the charisma and wit that I expect from Doyle. I loved the descriptions of the family farm and the stories of Emer’s youth. Tansey was a wonderful and lively character, and I loved her take on the after life. However, not much happens in the book and the dialogue at times feels forced and even dumbed down for a younger audience. Despite the serious content, this book felt more like a middle grade than a teen novel. Overall, a sweet, simple read.