Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Greyhound of a Girl
Roddy Doyle

Amulet Books
May 1, 2012 / ISBN 978-1419701689
Ages 8 and up
Social Situations: Death & Dying

Reviewed by Beth E. McKenzie

When my mother's mother was five years old, her mother died in childbirth. It was the single-most important thing to happen in her life. Even as she approached 90, she still grieved for the mother "that God must have needed more than her children did." It shaped her choice of a husband, how she raised her children, the way she cared for me and the other grandchildren. Whatever else happened, we would never know the pain caused by the void from a missing mother.

I'm going to have to apologize to the author here. I had expectations for this book based on the marketing blurb and my own experiences that weren't realized, so I have to say that I didn't fully understand it. The series of events is plain enough, Mary's granny, Emer, is old, sick and in the hospital. The family knows that she is going to die soon. Mary and her mother, Scarlett, visit Granny Emer in the hospital, and Scarlett tries to keep spirits up by being overly cheerful. Mary's brothers are freaked out by the whole sick and dying thing and won't go.

One day Mary meets a old-fashioned lady outside her house. She finds out that the lady is the ghost of her great-grandmother, Tansey, and that great-grandmama wants to see her little Emer again and help ease her passing. Mary introduces the ghost to her mother, and between the three of them, they take Emer to the house in the country that she grew up in one last time so that mothers and daughters can say what needs to be said.

I can see elements of the story that are important to relay to young children, like normal life has to continue while somebody close is terminally ill; the boys play sports, Mary makes life goals and the family watches television. The idea that you go to a place where you are cared about after death is comforting, as is making the extra effort to help each other come up out of the blues periodically, although I didn't get the persistent jokes about being cheeky or grand. After a while it was irritating, but that's part of normal life too.

Reviewed 2012