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A Greyhound of a Girl

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,727 ratings  ·  390 reviews
Mary O’Hara is a sharp and cheeky 12-year-old Dublin schoolgirl who is bravely facing the fact that her beloved Granny is dying. But Granny can’t let go of life, and when a mysterious young woman turns up in Mary’s street with a message for her Granny, Mary gets pulled into an unlikely adventure. The woman is the ghost of Granny’s own mother, who has come to help her daugh ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Harry N. Abrams (first published September 1st 2011)
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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,727 ratings  ·  390 reviews

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3.5 Stars.

“Do ghosts drink tea?”
“They don’t,” said Tansey. “But this ghost would love to see a cup of tea in front of her. It’d be lovely.”

This book was so sweet. I know that sounds like an “Oh God, what can I call this book? Quick gimme a word, gimme! Ahh, sweet will do” but it really isn’t.

It truly was sweet.

As the synopsis says, this is a story about mums (sorry mams) and daughters and the connection between them.

I wish this story had been told solely from Tansey and Emer’s perspective bec
Kat Kennedy
Mary O'Hara is a sharp and cheeky 12-year-old Dublin schoolgirl who is bravely facing the fact that her beloved Granny is dying. But Granny can't let go of life, and when a mysterious young woman turns up in Mary's street with a message for her Granny, Mary gets pulled into an unlikely adventure. The woman is the ghost of Granny's own mother, who has come to help her daughter say good-bye to her loved ones and guide her safely out of this world. She needs the help of Mary and her mother, Scarlet ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, ya-mg
My main disappointment with A Greyhound of a Girl was that the story was not entirely what I expected. When initially reading the back cover, I expected something rather poignant yet cute—a story of four generations on the road together, facing a journey of discovery, forgiveness and acceptance with a few giggles along the way. Yet while this might in fact be what the author had in mind, I couldn’t help but feel somehow let down by the story.

Typically, stories like this one are highly personal
3.5 Stars

This book was just so charming. Whimsical, charming and very, very sweet. It is simply a story about the connection between mothers and daughters. It is also a story about growing up, letting go and losing the ones you love. Not often do I read a book in one day, but the fact that I read this in a day is perhaps testament to just how engaging I found this novel.

The characters of Mary, Scarlett, Emer and Tansey are what make this story. The connection between each of the women and the dy
Ben Babcock
My grandmother died in January. We were expecting it for a while. She had been in and out of the hospital for months, her diabetes causing circulation problems with her legs to the point where he body could no longer keep up. I had realized prior to that what a loss my grandmother would be, but it was still hard for me to understand how it would feel—this was the first death in my family that I had experienced. Sometimes, the isolated nature of our cognition inevitably leads to a mild form of so ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
12 year old Mary starts talking to a lady outside her house.. Turns out it's her great grandmother who is dead... She wants Mary's help to send a message to her daughter who is dying..

It's a cute quick story about 4 generations of women.. It's sweet but the writing style was annoying and the story jumped back and forward in time. It's a simple story without much too it.

It was ok but since it says a small miracle of a book and a book to read and re-read on the cover I was expecting much more.
Feb 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy family stories with bit humor
"A Greyhound of a Girl" was definitely one of those stories that I think has a sweet, slice-of-life, remembrance theme to it, though I'm not sure if it didn't appeal to me as much because of the multiple perspectives it was written in, or if it was something about the structure/flow of the writing that didn't pull me in. Don't get me wrong, it's a sweet story that I liked, but it didn't tug at my heartstrings as much as I believed it would and I had to take the story in small bits. It's a brief ...more
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the back of the book:

"Scarlett, Mary, Tansey, Emer.
Mothers and daughters heading off on a car journey.
One of them dead,
one of them dying,
one of them driving,
one of them just beginning.
They’re going back to the past on a matter of life and death."

Mary is twelve and she hates the hospital. She hates everything about it, except for one thing, her granny.
Mary’s granny Emer is in hospital afraid to close her eyes in case she’ll never open them again while unable to stay awake.
Mary visits her gr
Rachel Groves
Roddy Doyle's children's book, which the blurb says is suitable from ages 10 to adult, deals with some big themes but it's by far from a heavy or tricky story. There's a lot of humour and lightness of touch.

Mary is twelve and her grandmother is in hospital dying. It's a difficult time for Mary and her mother, then Mary meets a sweet old lady who seems very familiar and knows a lot about her grandma. She also seems to disappear in bright light...

We have dying, loss, ghosts and sadness. But also
Reading Wolf
This book was wonderful. It really captured the sadness of losing a loved one. I felt myself relating to the characters, I cried when they cried, and laughed at Mary's cheeky comments. I adored the moments between daughter and mother. The author was great at bringing about touching scenes without making them come across cheesy or cliche.

The amount of dialogue used was sufficient I feel for the setting of the story. I loved the language used by the characters and how they played off each other.
A. Mary
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-novels
This charming story is written for young readers, with a twelve-year-old protagonist named Mary O'Hara. It's a story of mothers and daughters, four generations from Tansey to Emer to Scarlet to Mary. It's a ghost story that is not even remotely scary. Instead, it allows a childhood loss to be resolved and suggests that the lost are tenderly watching. I think of John Berger, the art theorist, writing that "What has vanished has gone into hiding. [...] The dead are hiding elsewhere." In the case o ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a short, sweet, charming book which I mostly enjoyed. Bits of it, particularly the chapter where we learn how Mary's great-grandmother died, are deeply touching.

On the minus side, while I think this would have captured my imagination more when I was 12 myself, as an adult I found the story and the interaction between the four female characters to be a little slight. Much of the story is conversation, and much of that is a bit shallow and repetitive. "It's grand." "You're grand." "I'm gra
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star, netgalley, ireland
Received from Netgalley for review, thank you. I love the one-sentence premise: that four generations of Irish women are on a road trip – "one is dead, one is dying, one is driving, and one is just starting out." And that is the strict truth.

I own a book or two by Roddy Doyle, but this is the first I've read by him. I don't know what I was expecting – but this wasn't it.

The rest of this review can be found here, on Booklikes, and here, on my blog. However, I will no longer be posting reviews o
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
A Greyhound of a Girl tells of a twelve year old Irish girl named Mary, who meets her great grandmother one day while walking home from school. Mary doesn't realize at first that this friendly woman, named Tansey, is a. a ghost b. her great grandmother, who died when her own daughter was only three, but it soon becomes clear. Mary's dear gran, Emer (Tansey's daughter), is in the hospital, waiting to die...and Tansey, who has done her best to keep a loving watch over her daughter, wants to go com ...more
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I go to Ireland in less than a month! It’s going to be fabulous! I can’t wait for September! And how am I progressing on my goal of reading all those Irish middle grade and young adult books anywa…? Oh dear. I fell off the wagon. I’ve been so busy planning my actual trip and trying out Irish pub recipes that I’ve failed to read kid lit by Irish authors. EXCEPT! Look at this: today’s review qualifies! Roddy Doyle’s A Greyhound of a Girl is a lovely, haunting little book – a ghost story with heart ...more
Ms. Yingling
Mary's grandmother Emer is very ill and in the hospital. Her mother, Scarlett, is trying to come to terms with her inevitable death. Mary is sad that her best friend has moved away, but meets the new neighbor, Tansey, an older woman who seems somehow familiar. It turns out that Tansey is really Mary's great grandmother, who died of the flu in the 1920s, and has come back as a ghost to help Emer. When Scarlett finds out about this, she aranges for Emer to get out of the hospital for a little bit, ...more
Colleen Graves
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teen girls, anyone experiencing loss
Shelves: great-ya-books
This book defies genre by blending paranormal, historical and realistic fiction. A young Irish teen named Mary is feeling isolated and lonely as a newly budded teen when one day a young woman in antiquated dress starts walking home with her. Within a few visits she realizes the young woman is the ghost of her great grandmother.

I really loved how the main character felt real emotions that are important to teens. Plus, it displayed how the loss of a family member can feel so confusing, similar to
12 year old Mary's grandmother is dying in hospital and Mary's great grandmother returns as a ghost to comfort the family.

The novel has some charm in the Irish dialect and setting however Doyle's presentation of Mary as a preteen became increasingly annoying as the story developed. No twelve yr old peppers their speech with 'I'm not being cheeky' every time they talk to an adult - they just talk. The scene with the 'heggs' was beautifully crafted, but the constant 'humourous' banter between the
Kris McCracken
This is the first of Roddy Dolye’s books that I’ve read that he’s written for younger readers. In many respects it is ‘typical Doyle’, but with a distinctly softer edge in terms of language and overall ambiance. That said, the narrative voice is distinctly Irish and I didn’t find the change undermined my enjoyment of the novel. Given the central themes of death, ageing and regret, the author does a great job of communicating a sense of tenderness and understanding without resorting to condescens ...more
Mar 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
I read this because it is on the short list for the Carnegie Medal this year. The author has also won the prestigious Booker prize for an adult novel. The premise was interesting: four generations of women -- one a girl (twelve years old, so on the cusp of adolescence), one her mother, one the dying grandmother, and the last the ghost of her dead great-grandmother --take a middle-of-the-night road trip from Dublin to their ancestral farm and, in the process, connect across the divide between lif ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first saw Roddy Doyle had a new book out, I requested it from the library without knowing it was a children's book (probably middle grade, not little kid). Didn't matter. This is just as engrossing as his work for adults. It tells the story of four generations of women (well, one is twelve), one of whom is dying and scared of what comes next. The ghost of her mother arrives and takes them all on a journey to the farm where it all began. The perfect book about mothers and daughters, and I ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A sentimental story of a girl whose best friend has just moved away, and her grandmother is dying. One day she meets her dead great-grandmother walking down the street, and through the end the story of four generations is told. It isn't just the stories of the four women, but how their landscapes changed over time.

This is YA in focus, a quick read, and has lovely lilting words that make you realize you are in Ireland! I'd love to hear an audio version.

"You'd a lovely way of falling."
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roddy Doyle's children's books convey his talent for capturing the human heart in words, just as his adult books do. This is the story of Mary who meets the ghost of her great-grandmother outside her house one night, just in time for her to convince her mother to take the two of them to the hospital for a last adventure with her dying grandmother. The four of them revisit the family farm and the seaside while Tansey (the ghost) comforts and heartens her dying daughter Emer, while linking the fou ...more
Cindy Dobrez
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2012
"Four women traveling on a midnight car journey: one of them dead, one of them dying, one of them driving, and one of them just starting out." My favorite books are intergenerational stories and books that make me laugh and cry. This one fits both categories and does it with some of the best writing of the year. It's a book that makes me not want to move on to another book. I want to live with these four women for a while longer.
Grand. Just grand. Not much else that can be said about this story that on the surface is a simple tale about a young girl growing up in modern-day Ireland whose beloved grandmother is dying. Of course, the story ends up being much more than that. It's a ghost story. A story about family. A story about love, growing up, growing old, and growing strong. A+. Well done.
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
A master storyteller and writer and a wonderful matter-of-factness about the appearance of a ghost in a young girl's life as her granny lies dying. Really almost a five-star book except the dialogue didn't always ring true for me.
Edward Sullivan
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this novel much more than I thought I would. A warm, touching supernatural story.
I've never met a ghost, but there's a few people I'd like to talk to as well. Somehow I don't think I ever will meet one either, unfortunateley.
Mrs Mallott
Maybe I'm way too soppy, but I thought this was a lovely, touching story. It made me cry!
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Roddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.

Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming
“Do ghosts drink tea?

They don't, said Tansey. But this ghost would love to see a cup of tea in front of her. It'd be lovely.”
“Four generations of women--"I'm a woman," Mary said to herself--heading off on a journey in a car. One of the dead, one of them dying, one of the driving, one of them just staring out.” 2 likes
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