My name is Mina

I read. If I’m not doing anything else, I’m reading. Few things in life come close to time spent with a good book. But it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that touched the very heart of me, one that I’d like to see on a prescribed reading list for anyone in need of some soul sustenance.

And no. It’s not a self-help book. It’s not a true-life-beat-the-odds inspirational one  either. It’s a little gem. Not since I put down Mr God, This is Anna about 20 years ago (an all-time favourite), not since then have I had such a book afterglow.

Billed as a middle-grade kid’s book (mmmm….), My Name is Mina is a jewel from the mind of David Almond. It begins:

There’s an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It’s been there for an age. I keep on saying that I’ll write a journal. So I’ll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words: My name is Mina and I love the night. Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line? Words should wander and meander. They should fly like owls and flicker like bats and slip like cats. They should murmur and scream and dance and sing.

Through the eyes of Mina, Almond deals with topics like death, old age, birth, fear, education, depression, social isolation, single parenting … and he does it with humour and creativity.

Weird how I can feel so frail and tiny sometimes, and other times so brave and bold and reckless and free, and . . . Does everybody feel the same? When people get grown-up, do they always feel grown-up and sensible and sorted out and . . . And do I want to feel grown-up? Do I want to stop feeling . . . paradoxical, nonsensical? Do I want to stop being crackers? Do I want to be destrangified? O yes, sometimes I want nothing more – but it only lasts a moment, then O I want to be the strangest and crakerest of everybody.

Mina gives the reader extraordinary activities to try, like making a circle of your thumb and forefinger and then looking through it at the sky to see what passes through your universe. Or filling a page with a sentence that doesn’t end. Or writing a poem that repeats a word until the word loses its meaning. It’s a joy.

If you’re a teacher – it’s a wonderful resource – and the Scottish Book Trust has done all the work for you. Mina herself is home-schooled and through those lessons, we learn. I never knew that Wordsworth used to compose his poems as he walked – stepping the words apparently helped with the rhythm. I didn’t know that Picasso was a fan of Paul Klee and once said to his detractors something along the lines of it takes years to learn to paint as a master, but a lifetime to learn to paint as a child. And I didn’t know that birds descended from dinosaurs or that dust is mainly composed of particles of human skin. And there’s lots more.

It’s beautifully designed with telling chapter titles like: Ernie Myers, Rubbish, Dust, Metempsychosis & a blue car; or Sprouts, Sarcasm & the Mysteries of Time. If you’re in need of some cheering up, treat yourself.

 

 

Subscribe to get notified when I publish something new.

3 Responses

  1. Mr God….. was a big hit with me and remains so ………….thanks for the recommendation, I will speak to Mr Amazon!

Talk to me...

%d bloggers like this:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information on cookies and GDPR

Cookies and GDPR Compliance

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

General Data Protection Regulation

If you have voluntarily submitted your email address so that you can receive notifications of new posts, please be assured that I don't use your address for anything other than to do just that - and that's done automatically. I might use your address, if I knew how to, but I don't.

This blog does not make money, it does not carry sponsored content, it has no ads for which I receive any form of payment. If I review a place or a restaurant or a book, I don't receive any compensation from anyone. I wish I did, but that would require marketing myself and life is too short. If something changes, I will be sure to let you know.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe or manage subscription links at the bottom of every email you receive. When you comment on a blog post, Google Analytics tracks where you're posting from. This is stored and I can check my stats to see how many clicks I had today, where people clicked from, and what they clicked on. That's it. Nothing more.

I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, particularly to other commenters. If you want to have one of your comments deleted, the please get in touch with me at: mary@irjjol.com. I'm all for the right to be forgotten so will happily oblige.

So, in a nutshell, if you give me your email address voluntarily to subscribe to new posts or if you opt to subscribe to new comments, then you email is just used for this. Nothing else. Promise.

Close