Fourteen-year-old Holly Hogan narrates the story of her life on the run as Solace. The novel opens with Solace hiding in the back seat of a station wagon, which is on a ferry en route to Ireland, where Holly's mother fled nine years earlier. Then the story flashes back.
Holly is bitter and angry. She has been in foster care for so many years, that when Ray and Fiona choose to foster her, she can't accept their willingness to like her. She's surly and testy and downright rude. On the day before her birthday, Fiona hints that she may be home late and Holly grabs the blond wig she found, some of Ray's pocket change and hits the road. Along the way she contemplates her life and meets a variety of people along the way. She hitches. She allows herself to get picked up at a night club. She's incredibly lucky.
I worked as an ER nurse for six years before staying home to raise my sons. So I've seen my share of Holly-types. I did figure out Holly's suppressed memories way ahead of time, but it still did not diminish my heart-in-my-throat feeling as I listened to her lurch from one bad decision to another. This is a sad, in your face sort of story, but one that made my laugh along the way as well.
This is the second Dowd book that I have listened to Sile Bermingham narrate. Her voice is just gorgeous. I'm a fan. (Just checked the BCCLS catalog for what other books she has narrated.) Sadly, this was Dowd's final novel, as she died of breast cancer in 2007, at the age of 47.