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Solace of the Road Hardcover – October 13, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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The third and final book in Brandon Sanderson's The Reckoners series. Hardcover | Kindle book

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Holly Hogan, 14, lives in a facility for troubled youth in England. Her dream is to return to Ireland, her birthplace, and reunite with her mother. When she is placed in a foster home, the dream resurfaces as she finds and tries on the woman's blond wig. Suddenly, Holly is gone and in walks Solace, a devil-may-care older version of herself, with "slim-slam hips" and the world at her feet. The name Solace comes from a winning horse Holly supposedly chose when her mother bet on horses. As Solace, the teen sets off on the road to ruin as she begins a runaway journey. All the while, her faded memories turn all too gritty as she remembers the true behavior and treatment she received at her mother's hands. She meets a variety of strangers, some kinder than others. And she does indeed make it to Ireland almost at the cost of her life. Through her alter-ego, Holly rediscovers herself and embraces the promise of a better life than the one she has been dealt. Written with dialect of both the English and Irish, the story has some words or phrases that may be unfamiliar to some readers. However, there is nothing to detract from the emotional power of this beautiful novel. Readers will keenly feel Holly's hurt, rage, confusion, sorrow, humor, and hunger for a sense of home, a sense of peace.—Tracy Weiskind, Chicago Public Library END


Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2009:
"A last gift from Dowd."

Starred Review, Booklist, October 1, 2009:
"With rare, raw honesty, Dowd writes about the legacy of abandonment, memory's comforting tricks, and the painful, believable ways that love heals."

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books; 1 edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375849718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375849718
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,087,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Fifteen-year-old Holly Hogan bides her time in yet another foster home before running away again. With her silvery-blonde wig, she is transformed into the fierce and fearless Solace, bound for the green hills of Ireland to find her Mam. In what will regrettably be Siobhan Dowd's last novel, her superb story forces you to relive the dreams and horrors of the girl's life.

Ray and Fiona Aldridge, Holly's foster parents, were a joke. Holly's key worker, Miko, seemed to think they were good people, but she's just not comfortable around them. It should have been a foregone conclusion that she'd run. They're too squeaky clean and formal, a far cry from the kind of people she'd have picked. Fiona has a crooked bob and a fancy mantle clock, and Ray trims the hedges. They don't smoke, so Holly has to sneak up to her bedroom to smoke in secret. Their house is fancy, all wood..."posh and phony," as Holly calls it. Fiona wants to take her shopping and for Holly to use coasters (of all things!). Her foster mom couldn't have kids of her own, so it seems Holly is now her pet project. Ray barely even speaks to her. It all makes Holly feel out of her element --- it's like they want someone else but not the real her.

But while they are strange people, there is one thing that's incredible about the Aldridges: Fiona's wig. It's a silvery-blonde kind of magic that adds three years to Holly's age. With it on, she's not Holly anymore --- she's suave, dangerous and determined. She becomes Solace, the name of Mam's winning horse in a race. And Solace is hitting the road, not staying here another minute. She's off to find Mam in Ireland where they lived before. So with just a little money and a few things stashed in her lizard purse, Holly/Solace walks out the door.
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Format: Hardcover
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.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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