"The word is the making of the world." - Wallace Stevens

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Solace of the Road - Siobhan Dowd

This was apparently Siobhan Dowd's last novel published, posthumously. I first heard about Bog Child over the summer through a friend, but when I went to buy a copy, I decided to purchase Solace of the Road first, after reading a review. It was on a whim, I really liked the sound of the title.
I loved this story. I immediately got caught up with Holly/Solace and her self discovery quest. She's likable, self reliant, sarcastic, creative, and restless, with a forward looking attitude. She has personality traits and runs into situations that just about anyone of any age can identify with. I loved it when she compared herself to Jane Eyre when she lost her luggage. And as the title suggests, when the open road beckons, there's comfort in moving along it. Sometimes you just need to be moving forward to be able to see things differently.
Holly's had a tough time with life so far and decides to take fate by the horns. She leaves her current foster parents' home to head for Ireland, where her imagination leads her to believe her alcoholic mother is waiting for her. She's armed with nothing but a tough cookie attitude and an ash blonde wig, calling herself 'Solace'. She's tough enough to hit the road with virtually no money, but she's still childishly naive enough to think she'll be happy at the end of her journey. For me, this was really where the "bittersweet" side of the story comes out; Holly is a fourteen year old girl, and doing her best to cope and do what she thinks is right in a world that just isn't always kind or fair. She meets all kinds of characters along the way that help shape the direction she's headed, as she ultimately learns to accept who she was and is. Like the Bonnie Raitt lyrics say, "We can't change the past, but we can leave it behind."

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