TITLE: SOLACE OF THE ROAD
AUTHOR: SIOBHAN DOWD
Details: Young Adult
Read for One Cavan One Writer
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 from London to Ireland where she is sure she will find her mother and a happy reunion.
The road is a difficult and dangerous place for a young girl though, regardless of whether she is Solace or Holly. And as she spends more time on her own memories resurface, memories which make it clear that maybe a happy reunion isn’t likely and that perhaps the life she has left behind wasn’t nearly as bad as she thought.
This is a powerful coming of age story. Holly has known little but hardship in her young life, yet has a resilience to admire. Sure she has issues and doesn’t always make the right decisions, but deep down she is good and only wants to be happy.
In the two days she spends on the road Holly has the time to reassess everything she thought to be true and everything she made herself forget and in the process she gets to know herself a little bit better.
I like the way Dowd makes the dangers of running away and being young and alone in the big world perfectly clear without making the story gruesome or horrible. I appreciate how she made Holly a realistic character. She isn’t a downtrodden martyr anymore than she is a hell-raiser. She is basically an average teenager in unfortunate circumstances dealing with them best she can.
The story leaves the reader with a lot to think about without ever being depressing and at times even funny. This is a positive story with a powerful message.