Summary and book reviews of Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

Solace of the Road

by Siobhan Dowd

Solace of the Road
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2009, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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About this Book

Book Summary

Memories of mum are the only thing that make Holly Hogan happy. Then she finds the wig, and everything changes. Wearing the long, flowing blond locks she feels transformed. She’s not Holly anymore, she’s Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the supersharp talk.

Memories of Mum are the only thing that make Holly Hogan happy. She hates her foster family with their too-nice ways and their false sympathy. And she hates her life, her stupid school and the way everyone is always on at her. Then she finds the wig, and everything changes. Wearing the long, flowing blonde locks she feels transformed. She's not Holly any more, she's Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the super-sharp talk. She's older, more confident - the kind of girl who can walk right out of her humdrum life, hitch to Ireland and find her mum. The kind of girl who can face the world head on.

So begins a bittersweet, and sometimes hilarious journey as Solace swaggers and Holly tiptoes across England and through memory, discovering her true self, and unlocking the secrets of her past.

Solace of the Road is a wonderful novel from one of the UK's most talented new writers for teenagers. Holly's story will leave a lasting impression on all who travel with her.

Excerpt
Solace of the Road

In the darkness, I was falling backwards to where I’d started my journey. The road I’d taken disappeared from under my feet, the mountains and castles and hills and tarmac crumbled and I was at the beginning again, back to how I left the Home. And that was down to Miko.

‘Miko,’ I said out loud. ‘Miko? Where’ve you gone?’ And there he was, in my mind, smiling at me. Tall as a door, with a mean whisper of hair. He was looking down at me from the top of a hill, his guitar slung over his back. Hurry, hurry, Holly Hogan, he sang. It was the tune he made up for me, the time we all went to Devon. Before the road disappears beneath your feet. Then he shook his head and turned away and vanished.

Miko was my key worker at Templeton House. That meant I was his special concern. His name was short for Michael and pronounced My-co. He had a unicorn tattoo on his forearm and he could juggle anything: slices of toast, a jam jar and a ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

For a teen reader, this is the perfect road trip novel. What teen has not contemplated running away to live life on her own terms? ...Amid the gritty reality of modern life, child abuse, drug habits and lockdown as a disciplinary tool, Solace rises into a dream state where the magic charms of her wig and her Mam lead her ever closer to her goal.   (Reviewed by Judy Krueger).

Full Review Members Only (580 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Readers will root for her to find her balance and arrive safely at the right destination. Ages 14–up.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Holly's insights and observations are completely plausible, as is her voyage of discovery, described in lovely, pitch-perfect language. A last gift from Dowd. Ages 12+

School Library Journal

Starred Review. Readers will keenly feel Holly's hurt, rage, confusion, sorrow, humor, and hunger for a sense of home, a sense of peace.

The Guardian (UK)

Tenderly unrolled at a jaunty pace, Solace's journey is full of apparent risks, but she is resourceful and resilient and the travelling helps her to let go of some of the anger of her past and give a more positive sense of the future.

The Independent (UK)

Creating the characters Holly meets in just a few words, quickly conjuring up the urban scenery, expertly flitting between past and present, Siobhan Dowd meets every challenge with the authority of a born writer taken from us too soon.

The Times (UK)

This page-turner invests mundane experience and everyday language with the resonance of poetry ..... This, and the thought that there was no more of Dowd's work to read, brought a lump to the throat. Ages 12+.

Reader Reviews

maria

solace of the road
I think Holly has a childish mind still wanting to be a kid but, yet she matures along the way she finds the real truth in life is the past and sometimes it's good to let go' so she goes on run away journey on a trip to find her long lost Mother. She...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Siobhan Dowd

PEN America. Siobhan DowdSiobhan Dowd (pronounced Shivorn) was named one of the "top 100 Irish-Americans" for her global anti-censorship work with the writers' organization Dowd also co-founded the English PEN’s readers and writers program, which brings authors into underprivileged schools, prisons young offender institutions and community projects.

Her first book for young readers, A Swift Pure Cry, was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and the BookTrust Teenage Prize. She is also the author of The London Eye Mystery (2007), and Bog Child (2008).

Siobhan died on August 21, 2007, at the age of 47. She had been receiving treatment for advanced breast cancer for 3 years and, according to her website, "did not go gentle into that...

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