Published by Amulet Books on May 1st 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
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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, Scarlett, who embark on a road trip to the past. Four generations of women travel on a midnight car journey. One of them is dead, one of them is dying, one of them is driving, and one of them is just starting out.
This succeeded very well for what it was – a sweet little generational story about four Irish women. If you’re expecting more than that then you’re going to be disappointed. If you don’t like dialogue then stay far, far away. In fact, that summary up there? That is this entire book save twenty-ish pages. It doesn’t get more complicated than that.
However, this book is effortlessly charming and sweet. Mary, truly is a witty, cheeky, little girl and her conversations with her mother, grandmother and ghostly great-grandmother are very amusing. The strength of these four powerhouse characters is what keeps this novel together.
I did have some issues with the book though. Some of the dialogue is downright nonsensical and this book should come with a warning for gratuitous use of punctuation.
Mary’s mother, Scarlett, talks like this for most of the novel:
It was her mother.
“How was school?!”
She went straight past her mother, into the hall.
“What’s your hurry?!”
It’s not long before Mary says what we’re all thinking.
“Great idea!” said her mother.
“Stop talking like that,” said Mary.
“Like !!!!!!!!!!!! [sic]”
“Oh, no!” said her mother ,[sic] whose name was Scarlett.
“I don’t talk like that! Do I?!”
Note to Mary’s mother: Yes, you do.
But serious question to Doyle, how do you even pronounce twelve exclamation marks? Every time I read it, because this is not the only time Mary uses a ridiculous amount of exclamation marks in lieu of a word, all I saw was someone pulling the human equivalent of this expression:
It eventually made for some cute dialogue, but that didn’t negate the original headache my editor brain gave me while reading this.
I suppose this book, as cute and fun as it was to read, only got three stars because I couldn’t quite see the point of it. Mary doesn’t grow or change in any remarkable way other than to appreciate her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – which she already mostly did. With so much dialogue, most of it unnecessary, it was easy to get immersed in the characters, but not so much in the story. It took me a long time to read a very short book. Once I put it down, I felt no compulsion to pick it up again.
It was a short and sweet story, but rather like the many exclamation marks, I’m not sure I entirely saw the point or truly grasped their meaning.