Summary and book reviews of A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

A Greyhound of a Girl

By Roddy Doyle

A Greyhound of a Girl
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: May 2012,
    208 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2013,
    224 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

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About this Book

Book Summary

Mary O'Hara is a sharp and cheeky 12-year-old Dublin schoolgirl who is bravely facing the fact that her beloved Granny is dying. But Granny can't let go of life, and when a mysterious young woman turns up in Mary's street with a message for her Granny, Mary gets pulled into an unlikely adventure. The woman is the ghost of Granny's own mother, who has come to help her daughter say good-bye to her loved ones and guide her safely out of this world. She needs the help of Mary and her mother, Scarlett, who embark on a road trip to the past. Four generations of women travel on a midnight car journey. One of them is dead, one of them is dying, one of them is driving, and one of them is just starting out.

Recommended for thoughtful middle-graders and young teen girls.

One

Mary O'Hara was walking up her street, to the house she lived in with her parents and her brothers. The school bus had dropped her at the corner, at the bottom of the hill. The street was long, straight, and quite steep, and there were huge old chestnut trees growing all along both sides. It was raining, but Mary wasn't getting very wet, because the leaves and branches were like a roof above her. Anyway, rain and getting wet were things that worried adults, but not Mary - or anyone else under the age of twenty-one. Mary was twelve. She'd be twelve for another eight months. Then she'd be what she already felt she was - a teenager.

She came home at the same time most days, and she usually came home with her best friend, Ava. But today was different, because Ava wasn't with Mary. Ava had moved to another part of Dublin the day before, with her family. Today, some of the neighbors looked out their windows and saw Mary, alone. They knew all about it, of course....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What is the significance of greyhounds in the story?
  2. If you could go back in time and ask one person one question, who would it be and what would you ask?
  3. What is the role of the flu in the story? How does it help frame the differences in the four generations of women?
  4. Ghosts are represented differently by different authors. If you were writing a ghost story, what would your ghost(s) look like? What would be the details of their haunting? Would they feel the cold, for instance? Be otherworldly-looking or ordinary?
  5. What is something all four women in A Greyhound of a Girl have in common? How does this shape the story?
  6. The characters in the book, particularly Mary, are often described as "cheeky." How does this character trait impact ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

A sensitive, thoughtful middle-grade or young teenaged girl would be the perfect reader for this book, and her mom would enjoy making an afternoon of it too. Doyle's writing reminds me that kids do not need lurid fantasy to draw them in to literature; they are thinking about big, real-life issues just as adults are. A Greyhound of a Girl will give kids a beautiful sense of possibility as they ponder their place in history and the passage of time.   (Reviewed by Jennifer G Wilder).

Full Review Members Only (891 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Written mostly in dialogue, at which Doyle excels, and populated with a charming foursome of Irish women, this lovely tale is as much about overcoming the fear of death as it is about death itself.

Booklist

Starred Review. This elegantly constructed yet beautifully simple story, set in Ireland and spun with affection by Booker Prize-winner Doyle, will be something different for YA readers. These four lilting voices will linger long after the book is closed.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A warm, witty, exquisitely nuanced multigenerational story. Ages 10-14.

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Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle Born in 1958 in Dublin, Roddy Doyle is a prolific Irish writer who has found over two decades-worth of material in the humorous, tender, and fraught life of the family. Americans may be most familiar with Doyle's wise-cracking dialog and its lilting Dublin intonations from the popular film adaptations of his Barrytown Trilogy: The Commitments (1987), see trailer below; The Snapper (1990); and The Van (1991). The three stories center around one middle-class Dublin family and their enterprises - a soul band, a teen pregnancy, a fish-and-chips van.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha In 1993, Doyle won the Man Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, a story told from the point of view of a ten-year-old boy living in the Barrytown section of north Dublin. ...

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