Monday, 19 September 2011
My name is Mina and I love the night.
by David Almond
The journal of a unique and wonderful girl, Mina. This book is a wonderful contrast to the last YA novel I reviewed. This is a remarkable novel, rich and complex in terms of its story and language. A prequel to Almond's brilliant, masterful novel Skellig, this lovely book sees Almond return to the story of Mina just before she meets Michael and Skellig. The novel takes the form of a journal and Mina's story is told in rich and experimental language that celebrates beauty and creativity.
Lush and imaginative it is Mina'a story told in her own words and voice and what a voice, still quite child like but with Mina's remarkable intellect and perception, this is simply a lovely book. The journal form is both creative and inspiring, how many kids would find Mina's journal inspiring in their own exploration of themselves and the world via a journal. I must admit Mina was my favourite character in Skellig, her independence and original thinking was very appealing. Her difference from the everyday made her unique. It is interesting that Almond has used this work to offer a critique of contemporary education and the regimented assessment that now defines education. He exposes the intrinsic failure of such education to meet the needs of those who deviate from the norm, he exposes the stifling lack of imagination and empathy in contemporary education and the way it pushes any child who is different despite their intelligence to the margins, exposing them to even further hurt and marginalisation.
This is a great little book but perhaps it is not quite as great as Skellig, which is a truly remarkable novel, my favourite children's novel of all time and one of my favourite novels full stop. Mina's journal speaks to everyone but especially to anyone who feels different and anyone who sees the world in a unique way. What a great combination the two books make, I recommend them both in the highest terms possible to any reader of any age.