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Solace of the Road Hardcover – October 13, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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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

Review

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."
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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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lindsey Miller on October 17, 2009
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: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm having difficult finishing this book. I don't identify with Solace. Probably its setting isn't in my own country and it is hard to get used to her version of English. I read a highly praised review and unfortunately made the error of ordering all the books Dowd wrote. I hope the others are more entertaining.
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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: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I believe this is a book for young teens & I wish that had been more clear in the reviews. I did like it, though. I started it one evening & finished the next morning so there was enough to hold my interest & make me want to know what happened. I really think it is written for young readers rather than adults but it is well written & I would recommend it for that age group.
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