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 and emotional, which in turn makes the story feel real. But as I was reading, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat detached from what was happening. The characters seemed intangible...almost as if they were in a dreamlike state...there yet not really there. Whenever something was said that was cute or funny to them, as a reader, I kind of felt like a bystander listening in on bits of a conversation that was not really meant for me to hear, i.e. not really getting the full picture or the gist of the joke. And it wasn’t a language barrier...I’m fairly used to reading British and Irish colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions, and came across nothing new in this book.
But what really contributes to that otherworldly quality to this story is the ghost element. I found it strange how the characters were so immediately accepting of this rather strange phenomenon, as if it was an everyday experience. Perhaps this is meant to reinforce the childlike natures of the characters. Even though four generations of women make up this story, they all have the same sort of childish innocence about them...how they view themselves and how they perceive the world around them. For example, when the ghost walks through the closed door of an ice cream shop carrying a wad of money, none of the women find it strange when the ghost returns by exiting through the chimney—the ghost’s reasoning being that she couldn’t carry four ice creams through a closed door. In this story, no one ever questions, everything is readily believed and approved. Because of this, other than this innocent sense of acceptance, there is no sense of real growth or development on this rather significant journey for these women.
Overall, while I like the idea that Roddy Doyle wrote a story like this for children, I wished that he could have developed the story and the themes a little more—focused more on the real rather than the imaginary. I think this is an important subject for children to consider, yet as written, I feel that only a surface representation of what experiencing a loss could feel like is really explored.