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Posted October 17, 2009
Another great book by Dowd (and sadly probably the last)
Honestly, I'm not sure how to approach this review. I'm sad because, to my knowledge, this is Siobhan Dowd's last book. Both Bog Child and Solace of the Road have been published posthumously, and I feel that although I still have a few books of hers to read that were published prior to these two, I am already internally mourning over the loss of such a great writer.
Dowd seems always able to find the perfect balance between telling the character's story in an engaging way and bringing the reader into an understanding of why the story is important, that it is more than simply a story about a person, but that there are larger elements at work, things that people should generally know about and empathize with, broaden their worldviews to understand and incorporate the messages that Dowd is so deftly communicating through her stories.
Solace of the Road is no exception. At first I found myself irritated with the first person narrative of a young girl who is stricken with a difficult past and struggling with who she is and was as she begins her journey maturing into a woman. So often I wanted to reach into the story and say, "Please stop thinking this way and making these kinds of decisions. You're only going to end up hurting yourself." However, even that sentiment brought me the realization that Dowd is so masterful in her storytelling. Dowd wants us to feel that way in order to show us the story, partner with us in our reading rather than just telling us something and giving us the easy answers. She forces us to grapple with many of the same difficult aspects of life that Holly/Solace is going through.
I often felt exactly the same way when reading Bog Child. Having grown up in America with two parents who loved me, I have no idea what a person in Holly's shoes is going through. Even now, I can't say that I truly know any more than I did before, but I will say that I have a stronger sense of empathy for people in Holly's position, or even Holly's mother, who often make decisions reacting to their circumstances rather than thinking things through and landing on the best possible choice. They make the best of what they have, and although they hurt others in the process, it doesn't happen without a sense of self-awareness and self-loathing they must work through. Holly is a complex character who feels very tangible. I wouldn't be too surprised if I actually met a 'Holly' one day, and she turned out to be exactly the way that Dowd has described her. I recommend this book to all readers 12+.
-Lindsey Miller, www.lindseyslibrary.com
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Posted November 5, 2009
Unforgettable masterpiece, a last tribute to a great writer
Of all the books I have read in my lifetime, this is one of the very, very best. I have never before read Dowd's work, but after reading Solace Of The Road, I intend to go out and discover all of her books.
Dowd is a literary master. Her writing In Solace of the Road is gut-wrenching and healing, all in the same breath. It is the kind of novel that will leave you feeling changed. It will stay with you and charm you in ways you cannot imagine.
There is no description adequate enough to give readers a feeling for what her writing is like, save that you have to read it yourself to understand. Though the subject is a difficult one which most readers don't usually seek out willingly (abandonment), don't be put off by the thought of a depressing novel; you'll be really glad that you read it, and it is equally balanced with good humor and inspiration.
The young girl who is the main character is full and alive, a person who is both fallible and brave. The book tales readers through the process of beginning to know and understand this girl, and by the end, she'll become a person who you really care for.
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Posted January 26, 2010
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
Life has not been exactly fair to Holly. She has grown up in a series of group and foster homes surrounded by social workers who say they care, but it certainly doesn't feel like they do.
As the story begins, Holly is headed toward a new home. A childless couple arranges for a few test visits and then decide they are willing to offer Holly a place in their lives. It should be the answer to Holly's dream, but her sights are set on finding her Irish mam and not relying on the kindness of strangers.
Maybe it's the constant disappointments over the years and the repeated caregivers who have abandoned Holly. Whatever the reasons, she doesn't feel that she can go through it again. After a short stay with the new couple and one heated outburst, Holly decides it's time to leave.
She stumbles across a blond wig that adds several years to her own almost fifteen, and when she looks in the mirror, she reinvents herself with a new name - Solace. Solace has the courage and the calm attitude needed to strike out and find her mam.
The journey takes Solace (Holly) into a world of roadside diners, truck drivers, and adventure spiced with bits of humor and potential danger. She's a girl in search of her past and, hopefully, a future filled with a promise of real family and real love.
Siobhan Dowd, author of several other award-winning YA books, tragically died of cancer at age 47. SOLACE OF THE ROAD features her typical Irish flare with colorful characters leading less-than-perfect lives. She captures the loneliness and desperation of Solace as she searches for what most of us take for granted.
American readers may find SOLACE OF THE ROAD a challenging read due to its definite Irish/British dialect and tone, but once they are caught up in the story, they will find it a rewarding read. Dowd's exceptional talent will be missed.
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Posted March 17, 2013
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Posted April 25, 2011
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