Solace of the Road
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Solace of the Road

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Holly’s story will leave a lasting impression on all who travel with her.

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...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by David Fickling Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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3 1/2 stars

This book is beautifully written, emotionally honest, and kept me riveted through many hot, humid, should-have-been-unbearable walks. I loved so many things about it and I would recommend it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately I think this is just one of those cases of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

This is a very quiet, understated story that is nonetheless powerful. Holly is a “care-babe” – raised in the foster care system in England ever since she and her mam got separated when she was very yo...more
"Your name's made out of cloud, Holly."

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Ms Dowd’s books sure do play havoc on my body clock. 3am. 3AM!

High Points.
Holly. S♥lace. Blonde wigs. Thule. Fiona. Vegan truckers. Grace. Trim. Rosabel. Slim-slam glamour girls. Mogits. The Titanic. “Walking out into a night sky, thumb out and fag in hand”. Ferries. Wales. Curry and chips. Araf. The kind of days that pull you out to play. Nameless boys on motorbikes. Miracles. Scenic routes. Baby Guiness. Strawberry birthday ca...more
4.5 stars
“I was in the middle of a field in Wales with a storm growling in the sky and the cops after me. And all I had to help was a thieving glamour girl who only existed inside my own cracked head.”
Having seen many fall into clichéd or melodramatic territory, I tend to be wary of books with plotlines that centre around a character taking a (literal) journey of self-discovery. The usual formula (teen has issues, teen hits road, teen has quirky interludes, teen has epiphany – all set to a ver...more
Cross-posted with my tumblr.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if all the YA heroes and heroines got together to discuss the times they saved the world?

Jace&Clary: "We stopped our dad from starting a demon apocalypse and then got together."

Edward&Bella: "We stopped a vampire war after we made a demon baby parasite."

Bethany&Xavier: "We tripled the visits to our local church!"

Everyone else: *blank stare* "Dude, that is so lame."

Seriously, our reality has been put in danger so man...more
Now, when I was researching possible books for my travel month (I say month, but I realise this month is over-running somewhat. Let's pretend no one else has noticed), I soon cottoned onto the fact that finding a comprehensive list of YA travel fiction was going to be a pretty tough task. But I do not give up easily, oh no. I managed to track down a list of road trip-themed YA on Goodreads (close enough), but was slightly disappointed to find most of these were set in the good old US of A. Not t...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Solace of the Road is not a plot heavy book. It's a character driven story where the reader uncovers the history of 14-year-old Holly Hogan. It starts when Holly receives a foster placement after living most of her life in a care home. She doesn't really want a new home or new parents, and she constantly complains about her foster parents Fiona and Ray. All she wants is to go back home to Ireland and the mother she left behind.

During an argument between Fiona and Ray, something snaps in Holly. A...more

And I was Solace. Solace of the road, walking into a night sky, thumb out and fag in hand…

There’s both a literal and figurative journey in this one for a girl who takes on a personality so different from her own. Holly, her story is sad but not completely tragic. Sad because she’s in foster care and does all these stupid things, but not completely tragic because not once does she get bogged down by what she doesn’t have. She’s always looking forward and thinking about how to get where she...more
This posthumously published novel of a British author is a tale framed by the event of 15-year-old Holly being locked in the car of a couple she doesn't know who are making the crossing of the Irish Sea from Wales to Ireland. Why and how she is in that car and on that ferry and trying to make that journey is what the book is about. She wants to find her Irish mother, lost to her for almost ten years in the scuffle of a domestic dispute with a good-for-nothing boyfriend. The journey away from her...more
This was the first book I read of Siobhan's, and as soon as I finished it all I could think was "I HAVE TO READ MORE!". But then I found out that she'd died of cancer, and had only written four books, and I was sad. She was a true writing talent, and 'Solace' is one of my all-time favourite books.
I love Holly Hogan. Even though self-described 'bad girls' in books get on my wick pretty quickly, you could see Holly's vulnerability and true kind-heartedness a mile away. All she wanted was to get ba...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

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 fin...more
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...more
Holly Hogan is nearly 15 years old and fed up with her life. After spending years in care she is now living with foster parents who she assumes don’t really care for her.
When she finds a blond wig she hides it and on the day before her 15th birthday she puts on the wig, applies some lipstick and runs away.
She’s transformed herself into Solace, a 17 year old beauty with slim-slam hips who knows what she wants and has the courage to go and get it. As Solace, Holly is determined to make her way fro...more
I was really looking forward to this book. I really liked the premise and I thought it would be something I could enjoy. I wasn't that impressed with it, though. I just couldn't bring myself to like Holly which made it hard to like the book in general. She really didn't come across as a nice person and I found it hard to sympathize with her. I could understand somewhat her reasons for the thoughts she had but it didn't make me find her interesting. Some parts of the book did make me a laugh a bi...more
I thought this book was really good as it was a worthwhile read.This book was gripping from start to finish. This book was about a girl named Holly Hogan who was in a children's home where she was cared for and had lots of friends. She was in and out of care a lot but just couldn't seem to find the right the right fit she either got really mean people or people with children, which she hated because they always sided with the children.Holly Hogan knows that she can't stay at the home for much lo...more
Daisy Beth
The saddest, funniest, sharpest mix of Maximum Ride and Tracy Beaker, Solace of the Road is a stunningly well-written book by one of my top favourite authors, Siobhan Dowd. This novel, set mainly in London, tells the story of Holly, a fourteen-year -old girl who has spent most of her life in care. She dreams of escape, of travelling to Ireland- where she's sure her mother will be waiting for her with open arms.
The most heartbreaking thing about Holly's story is that we know, from flashes of Hol...more
Nov 07, 2010 Nicole rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ...not really sure...
The character just didn't capture me. There was no emotional investment. What, oh, she's going to screw up her life, well too bad, la de da.

Hmmm, come to think of it, this may say more about MY state of mind than the author's ability to write...
Aug 09, 2010 Claire rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Claire by: Lisa
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 righ...more
Solace of the Road is a bitter-sweet story about Holly Hogan, a fourteen year old girl who has been living in a residential care home. She has locked away much of her past in her mind and has a very childlike fantastist way of interpreting the world. Many of the things that Holly thinks she wants are false and an illusion. It is her dream of finding her mother and returning to Ireland that spurs her to adopt the role of Solace. Whereas Holly is a girl who is restrained by her life as a care-babe...more
I started to read this novel on Thursday morning; I wish I had begun sooner. The book kept me awake and enthralled most of the time! If I did not have to work, sleep, and eat, I would have spent my whole time reading this book.

When I first read the synopsis on the book, I thought it would be an average, okay book. Since these were my first thoughts on the book, I picked one other book from the YALSA list in case it was a flop. Luckily, it was very tantalizing.

The book was a very quick read. Th...more
Siobhan Dowd is one of my new favorite authors ("London Eye Mystery" and "Bog Child"). Sadly, her death from breast cancer limits what is available to read by her. I still need to read "A Swift Pure Cry."

"Solace of the Road" is a dark, sad, complex book for patient readers. As with her other books, patience yields great rewards! In "Solace of the Road," 14 year old Holly Hogan is a part of the foster care system. At the beginning of the book, she is in a group home and has been offered a placem...more
Shellie Rich
I think that Dowd had an amazing gift in voice and I would have loved to see how she developed the rest of her talents. She did a better job of building characters in this book than she did in Bog Child; Holly was such a nuanced girl - tough but with such innocence, too. Maybe that is a little cliched, but I think its accurate for a lot of kids who have grown up in less ideal circumstances.
One thing that was weird about this book, though, was that sort of spent half of the book waiting for a sh...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kirsty (overflowing library)

I really enjoyed Solace of the road and thought it was really poignant and thought provoking read.

Solace of the road follows the story of Holly a teenage girl who has decided to run away from her foster home and to track down her mother in Ireland. She leaves dressed up as Solace a girl older than herself and uses Solace's confidence to travel her way across the country.

For me this book was all about Holly coming to terms with who she was and the terrible things she had gone through in her pa...more
Morgan Renae
I just finished this, and my heart is filled to the absolute brim. I'd liken it to the feeling I get around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I look around the room and see all the people I love and care about talking and laughing, and it's that moment of pure happiness that lingers in my heart. After finishing Solace of the Road, that feeling sprung up, and I instantly wanted to go back to page 1 and read it all over again.

Solace was one of the best characters I've ever read. She is so strong b...more
Watermelon Daisy
Solace of the Road had me feeling teary.

Now that’s not something I usually feel when approached with a book. The main character was so determined, so relatable… I didn’t want to let go of her.

But just like the whole plot of the story, we have to let go. We let go all the time. And Holly’s journey is always on my mind when I’m writing, because that’s the kind of coming-of-age story you need in this world. Maybe everything’s not as you expected, in which case it’s hard to let go of an ideal world...more
This slim book takes a while to get through due to its slow pacing and lack of action.

Holly/Solace's voice is melodious and well-written, and through all of her reflections, the reader gains a good sense of her character. However, I didn't feel her character matched up well with the plot. She's a very tough-exterior, soft-interior kind of girl, and I felt like she seemed more the type of person who would have settled resentfully into her foster home, maybe gotten into some light trouble, and the...more
Solace of the Road was a pleasant surprise. The story follows Holly, a foster care teen. She's fed up with her life and wants to flee London to Ireland where her mother supposedly resides. She finds a blonde wig and takes on a new identity, Solace. Solace is older, confident and more in control. On her journey she meets a variety of people and discovers things that she's been hiding from herself.

Holly is unlikeable at first. She's got a temper and talks without thinking. And yet, I came to reall...more
When fourteen-year-old Holly finds out that her caseworker, Miko, at the group home is leaving, she retreats even more into her fantasies about making her way back to Ireland from England and being reunited with her mum who fled an abusive boyfriend, leaving Holly behind.

She reluctantly agrees to try a foster placement since without her caseworker, she doesn’t feel strong ties to the group home, but she resists Fiona and Ray’s middle class life, and kindnesses, and ultimately runs away, plannin...more
Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies)
This review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies

Oh man. Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd was such an emotional roller coaster. Why has it taken me so long to pick up another book by this amazing author?! Siobhan Dowd writes so beautifully and with such emotion. I am in awe of her and also hugely saddened that she is no longer with us.

Last year I read A Swift Pure Cry and almost didn't have the words to describe the feelings that I felt when reading and because of that, I put off...more
A blond wigged mysterious girl stows away in the back of a vehicle aboard a ferry headed to Ireland. When she realizes that she is locked in the overheated vehicle in the cargo bowls of the ship, her delirious panic pulls open drawers in her mind that she'd long kept locked. Irish author Siobhan Dowd follows up her well received young adult novel Bog Child, with this rogue road trip tale of loss and personal discovery. 14-yrld Holly Hogan remembers little enough of her childhood before bouncing...more
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Siobhan Dowd was born to Irish parents and brought up in London. She spent much of her youth visiting the family cottage in Aglish, County Waterford and later the family home in Wicklow Town.
She attended a Catholic grammar school in south London and then gained a degree in Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. After a short stint in publishing, she joined the writer's organization PEN...more
More about Siobhan Dowd...
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“And drawers started opening in my brain, drawers I hadn't opened in years, and I was slamming them shut again but bits of memory kept coming, a voice here, a scream there.” 1 likes
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