Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

Many of us may dream about one day waking up, putting on a disguise, and completely walking away from life as we’ve known it. But take a quick second and consider the situation: could you actually do it? Could you throw on a wig and walk out the door without looking back? This is what Holly Hogan does in Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd.


Holly wakes up one day, decides she’s had enough, and hits the road in search of her old life.After spending some time in a home for troubled teens, Holly is sent to live in a foster home in England. Instead of embracing a new life in a new place, Holly is haunted by thoughts of her past. When she discovers a blond wig in the attic, Holly takes off in search of her mum in Ireland. A new wig means a new hairstyle, a new attitude, and a new life for Holly. She begins calling herself Solace and embarks on a journey with many ups and downs that almost cost Holly her life in the process.

As an outsider looking in on Holly’s situation, I started to wonder about Holly and why she so desperately wanted to find her “Mam” and return to her old life. If her life was so wonderful before, how did she end up in a place for troubled youth? The farther she treks on her journey, bits and pieces of Holly’s past life come to light, however, and soon we can see that everything wasn’t as wonderful as she remembers it, even if she can’t yet realize it herself.

I found Holly to be an interesting and thoughtful character, although I found her actions and decisions to be self-destructive. She is searching for a life that she believes will make her happy, but in the process she is destroying her chance to have a good life exactly where she is.

The biggest message that I took from this book is that many times when I look back on my life, I remember most things positively. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are some parts of our lives where there are both positive and negative situations, and a lot of times we might only remember the positive. It could be subconscious or wishful thinking, but sometimes we don’t want to remember the bad.  It’s important to remember the bad with the good, so that we don’t make those same mistakes again. So that like Holly, we can realize that what we think we want isn’t always what’s best for us.

For any audio book enthusiasts, I would recommend listening to the audio version of this novel. Read by seasoned performer Sile Bermingham, the audio version gives a taste of Holly’s Irish accent and a few other dialects from the area.

About the Author

Megan Garrett

Megan Garrett is the librarian at the Sugar Creek Branch of the Kansas City Public Library. She also writes book reviews for the Independence Examiner newspaper.