Review: A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

greyhound of a girl

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

Four generations of a Dublin family come together in this ghost story.  Mary is a modern Dublin pre-teen who finds herself moving away from her childhood rituals but also wanting to cling to them too.  One day on her way home from school, she meets Tansey, a woman who wants her to give a message to her grandmother.  Mary forgets, distracted by visiting her grandmother in the hospital with her mother.  So it isn’t until later that she mentions the woman to her mother, who pales at being told the name, Tansey, because that was her own grandmother’s name.  Soon Mary is having her mother meet Tansey and her relationship is revealed as is her status as a ghost.  The three of them conspire to get Tansey and her daughter together again, even though Tansey can’t survive the harsh lighting of the hospital.  The result is a road trip filled with hellos, memories, family stories, and goodbyes.  Richly layered, this slim volume holds a grand tale.

Doyle plays with the format of a ghost story here, at first starting with a little shiver and danger and then turning the story into that of a family that has dealt with an early death for generations.  It is a story of maternal love and the connections of women in a maternal line.  It is also the story of loss, death and above all, life.  Doyle creates fascinating characters, particularly in the two older women, Tansey and Emer.  Their stories have a pastoral beauty, a vivid warmth, and yet are damaged by death.  It is poignant, lovely and tragic.

The story is character driven and told in a slow, transformational way.  It takes its time, filled with small moments of lives, hands wrapped around tea cups, children on laps, slow steps up stairs for the last time.  Yet it is not a slow story, it is engaging, rich and builds a mood that is inescapable and memorable.

I loved this little book and the world that it created that seemed just for me.  Doyle’s writing is confident and beautiful, meticulously crafted.  This is a ghost story but so much more as well.  Appropriate for ages 11-13.

Reviewed from ARC received from Amulet Books.

2011 Andre Norton Award Winner

The 2011 Nebula Winners have been announced.  As always, teens will enjoy many of the science fiction and fantasy winners for adults, but happily there is also a category just for young adult books: The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The winner is:

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

Other books on the shortlist were:


Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson