Siobhan Dowd's final novel, SOLACE OF THE ROAD, provided an excellent read for the flight over from Houston to a rainy Kansas City. Holly is unhappy with her placement in a foster home with Ray and Fiona. When she finds Fiona's wig, left from her recovery from breast cancer, Holly is transformed to Solace, an assured older teen, one who hits the road. Solace is heading to Ireland to find her Mam, a mother who was separated from Holly years before. The road is a long and arduous trip occasionally lightened by helpful strangers who offer a ride, something to eat, some advice. As Holly moves further from her foster home, she begins to confront the truth about her mother and their separation. She also comes to understand that the wig can only cover up so much of who she is at heart.
Dowd is a master storyteller as she has demonstrated in THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, THE BOG CHILD. Her death a few years ago will leave a void in YA that is thoughtful and reflective and that creates such memorably quirky characters.
And a final observation, this is one of more than a handful of "road trip" books this year including ABSOLUTELY MAYBE, GOING BOVINE, and PUNKZILLA. Of course, I understand the use of the trip as a rite of passage of sorts. It is interesting to note that there are several standout books that employ this device.