Solace of the road by Siobhan Dowd; read by Sile Bermingham. Weaverville, NC: Random House Inc., 2009. 7 hours and 5 minutes.
1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Holly was in an orphanage, wanting to be with her mother again who left one day and never came back. When Holly got a foster family, Holly didn’t want to be there and decided to go look for her real mother, along with a wig she found at her foster parents house. [Rising Action] When Holly wore the blonde wig, she was transformed into an older woman named Solace who knew more things that Holly would know. [Climax] When Holly gets close to Ireland, where her mother was last known to be, she remembers what happened when she was with her real mother: her mother burned her with an iron and then left her, not coming back for her. [Falling Action] After Holly remembers that, she returns to her foster parents without ever finding her real mother and Holly learns to appreciate her new life. [Resolution] Holly will always remember her adventure as Solace, but now she realizes that she doesn’t want to be someone else – she wants to be just Holly. Theme: The themes of this audiobook included adventure, family, loneliness, and memories. Tone: This was a very serious novel/audio book because Holly, a 14 year old, goes out on her own and meets many strangers who she was not sure if she could trust or not. Style: The narrator’s reading style of this audiobook was unique – if I had just read this novel and not listened to it, I would never have imagined Holly with a British accent, even though she is from England. Hearing it read in that accent gave me a different scene for the story than what I had pictured when reading the description. Characterizations: Holly is very mature for her age, except for running away. She knows what she should and should not do while traveling to Ireland looking for her mother. She is very bright but also very childlike when she imagines Solace talking to her and giving her advice. I also think Holly was very lonely, which is why she was able to make Solace a real person so easily. Readability/Listen: I was very suspicious about just listening to a book, so I did get the physical book to follow along with. In the end, I stopped following along and just listened. Bermingham did a great job narrating and I did find out that I remembered the whole story just by listening to her read it. There were some parts where I might have fazed through, but overall I really liked the direction she took and think that it was very easy to listen to.
2. My reactions to the book. Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was a nice story to follow Holly on her adventure. I think one of the best strengths is the language – there are different words that I wasn’t used to and it showed me that this story was definitely set in a different country. One weakness I found was the repetition – I thought it was a little bit too much. For any teenager who has run away from home, this may be very accurate to their experience, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not overall.
3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this audio book is very intriguing. I think that many will pick up this book because of the cover, because of the mysterious girl facing the road and not looking back. It definitely shows adventure and traveling based on the cover and it’s very eye appealing to viewers.