Twelve-year-old Mary O’Hara does not expect to meet the strange, old-fashioned woman walking home from school one day. The woman looks young and talks old. She reminds Mary of her granny, Emer, who is in the hospital. Mary is even more surprised at her mother’s reaction upon hearing the woman’s name: Tansey.

As it turns out, Tansey bears more than a faint family resemblance. In fact, she is the ghost of Mary’s great-grandmother. Tansey was struck down suddenly by flu when her own daughter was a little girl. She never lived to see Emer grow up; she never met her granddaughter or great-granddaughter. Until now, that is.

Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, who writes for both adults and young readers, has crafted a warm, magical portrait of four generations of Dublin women—all of whom take Tansey’s ghost in stride. “Did you live in the pig shed after you died?” Mary’s mother wants to know.

“I did not, faith,” says Tansey. “Sure, why would I want to live in the pig shed? Even if I am dead and I can’t smell anything.”

But while Doyle’s touch is light, as his heartfelt story unfolds it is clear that Tansey, bound by a fierce maternal love, has one last, important task to accomplish. And if this task requires busting a grandmother out of the hospital on a midnight road trip with a ghost, well, sometimes that’s just the way life is. A Greyhound of a Girl is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for women—and girls—of any age.

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