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 into an understanding of why the story is important, that it is more than simply a story about a person, but that there are larger elements at work, things that people should generally know about and empathize with, broaden their worldviews to understand and incorporate the messages that Dowd is so deftly communicating through her stories.
Solace of the Road is no exception. At first I found myself irritated with the first person narrative of a young girl who is stricken with a difficult past and struggling with who she is and was as she begins her journey maturing into a woman. So often I wanted to reach into the story and say, “Please stop thinking this way and making these kinds of decisions. You’re only going to end up hurting yourself.” However, even that sentiment brought me the realization that Dowd is so masterful in her storytelling. Dowd wants us to feel that way in order to show us the story, partner with us in our reading rather than just telling us something and giving us the easy answers. She forces us to grapple with many of the same difficult aspects of life that Holly/Solace is going through.
I often felt exactly the same way when reading Bog Child. Having grown up in America with two parents who loved me, I have no idea what a person in Holly’s shoes is going through. Even now, I can’t say that I truly know any more than I did before, but I will say that I have a stronger sense of empathy for people in Holly’s position, or even Holly’s mother, who often make decisions reacting to their circumstances rather than thinking things through and landing on the best possible choice. They make the best of what they have, and although they hurt others in the process, it doesn’t happen without a sense of self-awareness and self-loathing they must work through. Holly is a complex character who feels very tangible. I wouldn’t be too surprised if I actually met a ‘Holly’ one day, and she turned out to be exactly the way that Dowd has described her. I recommend this book to all readers 12+.
-Lindsey Miller, www.lindseyslibrary.com www.lindseyslibrary.com