I was supposed to read The Cheshire Cheese Cat a Dickens of a Tale as my sixth book, but I did not. Another book was calling to me, and I started to read it, and I could not put it down, and I decided it had to be book number six for my Round One of Battle of the Books, because it had to win.
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Here is the description on the book jacket:
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 may sound boring to some of you. I'm not sure why I picked it up in the first place; I think it was just in the new books section of my library. Dying grandmothers are not generally a topic I gravitate towards.
Let me just say, I was on the floor in my bathroom at twelve-thirty at night (so as not to wake Sam) crying and laughing at the same time. I was thinking about my mother and my grandmother and my daughters and wanting to be with all of them at once, at that very moment, though my grandmother is gone. The line between this life and the next and the people who have come before me and the people who will come after me felt very thin, barely there.
This is a book that made me feel.
An aesthetic experience = when all of your senses are operating at their peak, in other words, an aesthetic experience helps you feel fully alive.
An anesthetic experience = when your senses are shut off, when you feel dead to the world around you
I have occasionally, okay often, read books where I had almost an anesthetic experience. Most of my senses were shut down. I was reading along, turning pages because I wanted to find out what would happen, but my emotions were not engaged. My heart was not involved. My mind was barely there at all. I couldn't really see or hear or feel or taste what was going on. These are the kind of books I end up reading halfway through; then I skip to the end to see if I can predict what will happen (vowing to myself that I will still finish the book); then I put the book down and never pick it up again.
A Greyhound of a Girl was an aesthetic experience for me. I wanted to read every word. I loved the characters. I wanted to be with them. I was with them. I was one of them. And when I shut the book, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, and knew it was time to go to bed and dream happily about my own life and the lives in the story which had somehow become connected. I still think about the story, many days after having read it. I've shared bits and pieces of it with my kids in every setting. I've begun recommending it to people I know and love.
This is how I know I truly love a book.
Lindsay's Round One Winner!!!!
[In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that this book is very Irish/British/UKish, and I have sort of a fascination for that culture and that sense of humor. For example, every character in this book says the term, "That's grand," all the time, regardless of whether or not the thing was very grand. I found this hysterical. I should also let you know that while the main character is twelve, this book is considered YA. I wouldn't give it to anyone under the age of ten, and perhaps even older than that.]