Wednesday 29 April 2015

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

I've been meaning to read The Minnow ever since the rep gave me an ARC over 12 months ago. It sounded intriguing & I liked the cover!
Last week it was also shortlisted for this year's Older Readers CBCA.

However there are soooooooo many books on my TBR pile at home, that the ones at work often have no hope of being attended to.

Friday, at work, it rained.
Normally I would walk home for lunch, but the pouring rain put me off. Suddenly my usual, routine Friday lunch break became exotic - a bowl of pho at my local Vietnamese cafe, with Sweeney's delicious looking book tucked under my arm.

An hour never flew by so quickly.

I loved the beautiful, flowing language and the dreamy fairytale quality that Sweeney used to tell her story.

But this is going to be a hard book to sell.

There is death, grief, rape, adultery, head jobs, bullying, ghosts, guns and teen pregnancy.
There is also love, friendship, hope, determination, support, diversity and courage.

I found it hard to reconcile that the father of the minnow was never called to account for abusing his position of trust with a grieving, bewildered young girl. Bill was quite a nasty piece of work, yet he was supposedly a friend of Tom's (dead) parents. How was it it that Tom ended up with him in the first place? It didn't make sense. All these people were there for her when she became pregnant, but where were they when her parents died?

Continuity was also a problem at times. The jumps between real life & fantasy were sometimes too unclear and too sudden and they left me feeling rather lost. And the ending? What actually happened? The Minnow was touted as a coming of age story, but I'm not sure that Tom actually matured very much at all. For quite some time I thought that Tom may have had an intellectual disability as her voice sounded far too young and too naive.

Despite these many flaws, The Minnow's magical, mystical style has ultimately, left me feeling very kindly towards it.
If you're looking for realism, a well-grounded narrative or a practical approach to grief, then this is not the book for you. But if you love being swept away by gorgeous writing, with minimal plot & lots of airy (or in this case, watery) spaces, then you will fall in love The Minnow.

This review is part of my Australian Women Writer's Challenge.


  1. Oh I'm jealous that you found a spare hour to read this- did you really finish it in an hour?? I too have been wanting to read this book for ages. I went to the launch at the CBCA conference last year and have had it since then, gnawing away each time I read another book instead. I too noticed it on the shortlist and now it's gnawing away more. But I've just started Claire Zorn's The Protected - for similar reasons of course- but this one is a library book and I need to crack on with it. Funny how there's less pressure from books you've actually bought. Mystical isn't always my thing, but I am of course drawn to good writing. Diana Sweeney spoke very well, and has had an interesting journey to writing I'm sure I will enjoy her writing.

    1. Mystical was a bit of stretch to give me another 'm' word for my alliterative sentence! But there are ghosts and spirits and a sense of a god-like presence or idea which got me close enough to 'mystical'.

      No, I didn't read it in an hour, but I did get almost half way through in that time and I finished it off that night before bed. I will check out your link again, now that I've read the book that the launch referes to :-)

  2. This sounds very intriguing and I'm a sucker for beautiful language. Plus, that cover!


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