May 18

Review: Her Mother’s Face by Roddy Doyle

I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Her Mother’s Face by Roddy DoyleHer Mother's Face by Roddy Doyle
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on 2008
Genres: fiction, picture book
Pages: 40
Source: ARC received from publisher

Award winners Roddy Doyle and Freya Blackwood team up to create a heartwarming story of loss, love, and what it means to be a family. When Siobhan was just three years old, her mother died, leaving Siobhan and her father alone in their house in Dublin. They never talk about her, and now, at ten years old, Siobhan no longer remembers her mother's face. One day, Siobhan meets a mysterious woman in the park who tells her that to remember her mother, she just needs to look in a mirror. As Siobhan grows older, she sees more and more of her mother's face in her own reflection. With time, she and her father and her own daughter are able to remember Siobhan's mother with joy and laughter instead of tears.

This lovely book covers an aspect of motherhood that is rarely given attention. Young Siobhán lives with her father. Her mother died when Siobhán was three and her father won’t ever talk about her. As Siobhán grows, she can remember small things about her mother – her hands and her voice – but she can’t remember her mother’s face.

One day a beautiful woman meets Siobhán in a park and notices that she is sad. She tells Siobhán that she should look in the mirror to see her mother, but it takes Siobhán many years to realise that it is her own reflection that looks not only like her mother, but like the woman in the park.

The story is beautifully told and paints a touching image of the confusion and loneliness Siobhán experiences when her father refuses to talk about her mother or share his memories of her. It also has a wonderful message of hope for children struggling with grief. Siobhán’s answers don’t come for many years, but they do come. She finds comfort in small things through the years and her own daughter grows to be a woman who shares her grandmother’s sense of fun.

Her Mother’s Face is the first picture book by Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle. The watercolour and charcoal illustrations by Australian illustrator Freya Blackwood compliment the moving, emotional text perfectly.

This story is both sad and uplifting, much like Sally Murphy’s novel for children Pearl verses the World.

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