cover image A Greyhound of a Girl

A Greyhound of a Girl

Roddy Doyle. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0168-9

Doyle revisits the subject of his picture book, Her Mother’s Face (2008), with this trim novel about a comforting ghost who helps a family deal with the loss of a loved one. Mary O’Hara, 12, hates her daily trips to the Dublin hospital where her beloved grandmother, Emer, is dying, presumably from old age. Returning from school one day, Mary meets Tansey, who seems vaguely familiar even though she is dressed “like a woman who milked cows and threw hay with a pitchfork.” Mary’s mother, Scarlett (yes, Doyle has named a character Scarlett O’Hara), figures out that Tansey is the ghost of Emer’s mother, who died suddenly of the flu in 1928, when Emer was only three. (Doyle is writing from a personal place: his mother lost her mother at a very early age and grew up with the profound sadness of not being able to remember what she looked like.) 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. Ages 9–up. (May)