A Greyhound of a Girl

By Roddy Doyle, published by Marion Lloyd

Goodreads Synopsis: Mary O’Hara is a sharp and cheeky 12-year-old Dublin schoolgirl who is bravely facing the fact that her beloved Granny is dying. But Granny can’t let go of life, and when a mysterious young woman turns up in Mary’s street with a message for her Granny, Mary gets pulled into an unlikely adventure. The woman is the ghost of Granny’s own mother, who has come to help her daughter say good-bye to her loved ones and guide her safely out of this world. She needs the help of Mary and her mother, Scarlett, who embark on a road trip to the past. Four generations of women travel on a midnight car journey. One of them is dead, one of them is dying, one of them is driving, and one of them is just starting out.

My review: I picked this up as one of my book club reads, and devoured it in a couple of sittings. It was just so unputdownable! I wasn’t sure what this book was about when I started it, but I got really stuck into the story and didn’t want to finish it. Right from the start A Greyhound of a Girl pulled me in. The story began with a really upset girl, Mary, who has just watched her best friend drive away to her new house miles away. That was really saddening. Then Mary went with her mother to visit her Granny in the hospital, and I felt tears in my eyes at Mary’s situation. It was just so sad! Then, Mary met the ghost of her great-grandmother, who died without watching her children grow up. Because she had such a strong want to see her kids grow up, Mary’s great-granny lived on as a ghost to witness her children grow. As soon as Mary had met hr, the next chapter was from Tansey’s, Mary’s granny’s mother, perspective- from the late 1920’s before she died. I was not expecting flashbacks in time in this read! I really loved that, though. I think that the most well written part of the story was the scene of Tansey being overcome with fever. It was told twice, both in third person but both focusing on a different character’s emotions at that moment. Those chapters gave a really three dimensional view of a crucial moment in the story, and I really enjoyed that! The rest of the story, just like that scene, was totally tear-jerking. The whole plot was really emotional, and towards the end I found myself not wanting to read the last page of the book. The ending was predictable, but still made tears well up in my eyes. It was really effectively written, with a hint of happiness and relief too.

I quite liked Mary, the protagonist. She wasn’t exactly leading the story, but I still enjoyed her character. It was great to follow her as she learned more and more about the female generations on her mother’s side. I could feel her emotions really well, even through the third-person narrative. I understood what she was going through and loved reading about her, in general. Each character had a different story to tell, and I loved reading about all of them, really!

Overall, A Greyhound of a Girl was a pretty emotional roller-coaster  It was written fluently and beautifully, and the characters were so realistic, especially Tansey. Even the supernatural, ghost side to the plot was believable through the author’s flawless writing. My only wish is that the book could have been a little longer, because the last sixty-something pages of the book were crucial yet seemed a little too fast-paced. I think they could’ve been lengthened a bit. Apart from that, though, I enjoyed this little read so much!

I received A Greyhound of a Girl from my school, for a book-club read because we’re shadowing the Carnegie shortlist.


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