Saturday, January 16, 2010

SOLACE OF THE ROAD by Siobhan Dowd

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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