Solace of the Road – Siobhan Dowd

Synopsis from Goodreads.
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 blond locks she feels transformed. She’s not Holly anymore, she’s Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the supersharp talk. She’s older, more confident—the kind of girl who can walk right out of her humdrum life, hitch to Ireland, and find her mum. The kind of girl who can face the world head-on.

So begins a bittersweet and sometimes hilarious journey as Solace swaggers and Holly tiptoes across England and through memory, discovering her true self and unlocking the secrets of her past

“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 cake. Girls who are strictly sunshine.

Low Points.
I read A Swift Pure Cry before this one and it broke my heart a smidgeon more.

Heroine.
It just shows how much I loved this girl that I could overlook her constant Jane Eyre-bashing. The usual rule is that if you bash Jane Eyre, I bash you.
Or at least, you know… glare at you and bitch about you behind your back. I fight like a girl, you see.
But there is always an exception to the rule and Holly Hogan is it.
(If you would like a much more coherent and insightful description of Holly, let me please direct you to the wonderful Katya’s review because she does a much much better job than I could.)

Vulnerable, fearless, strong, broken, resourceful, “left-over”; Holly is one of the most realistic and memorable YA heroines I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Theme Tune.
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics.

I like it when books already have their own theme tune packaged and ready for me.
Especially when they are as fantastic as this one.

I travelled the world and the seven seas,
Everybody’s looking for something.

I never thought this song was particularly emotional before I read this book, but now I’m pretty sure I’ll never listen to it in the same way again.

Sadness Scale.
9/10.
Ms Dowd was the queen of bittersweet endings. She really was.
After I finished this book I found myself just reading the last page over and over again, letting it sink in. I love how all the questions weren’t answered and I love how all the problems weren’t fixed.
On the final page the characters are still struggling and they will probably continue to struggle long after the reader has moved onto their next book. But in amongst all the bleakness and sadness that occurs in this story, there is always hope in the background.
Who knew a girl with an ash-blonde wig and bag made out of fake lizard skin could affect me so much?
Also… I got genuinely distraught over the fate of a stuffed dog.
Seriously, who am I?!

Recommended For.
People who are looking for a perfectly constructed and incredibly realistic contemporary YA novel. People who have ever wanted to become someone else, just for a day. People who don’t like it when someone spoils the ending of Titanic for them. Slim-slam girls. People who don’t trust vegans. People who want to travel the world and the seven seas… including the Irish one. People who would rather be a troll than a doll. Anyone who isn’t a mogit. People who will always take the scenic route.

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One thought on “Solace of the Road – Siobhan Dowd

  1. Pingback: For British Eyes Only: Jubilee Special. « weartheoldcoat

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