My Name Is Mina, David Almond

Just finished My Name Is Mina. Good book, interesting but I don’t think it’s a winner. It tells the story of Mina from Skellig, essentially recording her thoughts in a journal over the winter / spring before she met Michael. I have a memory of her being quite mysterious and enigmatically in Skellig and was looking forward to hearing her voice.

I have mixed feelings about it: it doesn’t feel to me like it is a prequel, more of an extended prologue to Skellig. There was something powerful in her dogged desire to be true to herself and not straitjacketed into a niche in society. There are also moments of genuine pathos… But I didn’t find her voice as compelling as I’d hoped. I also felt I’d have liked to see more of her mum: having lost her father and husband, fiercely protected her daughter, taken on her home schooling and nurtured Mina, I felt HER story would have been interesting. The moment when she is called into THE HEAD TEACHER’s office after the triumphantly disastrous SATs could have been brilliant but seemed anti climactic to me!

There are some interesting things here about education and children and creativity, all of which I personally support. I’m also glad that the anti-education system philosophy was tempered by an understanding that the teachers weren’t all bad too! The Blake references were all there as would be expected; interesting ideas about the power and playfulness of words. But for a book that purports to champion the ‘weird’, I felt it wasn’t quite weird enough…

Anyway, my next book is due and I will probably reread Skellig whilst waiting.


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