Review Blog

Sep 24 2014

The minnow by Diana Sweeney

cover image

Text Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781922182012.
(Ages: 14+) Highly recommended. This is a strange, poignant story of loneliness, loss and grief. We are not given the details of how 14 year-old Tom's (nickname for Holly) parents and sister are swept away in a flood; instead we glean bits of the story from the stream of Tom's consciousness and her interactions with their ghosts - not really ghosts but  each an ongoing presence in her life.
The minnow is the baby growing inside her, something that happens after she moves into the boatshed with Bill, an old friend of her father's, a loner like him, and someone who shares her interest in fishing, - but Bill betrays her trust, and has a dark underside, a dangerous man wanted by the police. Tom has to leave him and somehow find her own way in a world where she feels lost and alone.
However what is really lovely about this book is the number of warm caring people who gradually create a living presence around her - from her eccentric life-loving Nana and her new partner Jonathon, to Jonah her gentle gay friend, the sensitive art teacher James Wu, Hazel the nursing home administrator, calm and responsible Sergeant Griffin, the petshop owner and others. They all are genuinely kind people who go out of their way to help her.
Throughout the novel there is a constant theme of water, fishing, swimming and drowning, the living and the dead interweaving in one stream of life which eventually overcomes the sadness and suggests love and hope.
I enjoyed this novel so much that I read it a second time within a few weeks, appreciating even more on second reading the the weaving of the story, the blending of love and loss, and the gathering of warm and caring characters.
Helen Eddy

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