My Name is Mina is David Almond’s prequel to his extraordinary Skellig, and is an equally extraordinary work in which poetry and prose become almost indistinguishable as Mina keeps a journal of her musings and loneliness in the weeks that lead up to the events of Skellig. There is no summary that can do this book justice, so I’ll give you a picture, instead, the front cover:
Mina slowly unfurls to the reader what has happened to her over the past ?year? or so as she circumnavigates certain events and edges into examining them, even within the safety of her own journal, which nobody but herself and her mother, if Mina so decides, will read. The tentative and timely steps that Mina takes toward opening up to other people again are entered into by the reader as Mina advances into hope and retreats into anger, her emotions almost visible on the page as Mina pauses in her narrative to armour and steady herself. In one such case she writes two pages of words for joy to bolster herself sufficiently to continue in a tale that still festers, and by so doing, to lance the wound. In another instance the words on the page balze with Mina’s anger and rebellion against a school system that seems a cage to a child who longs for wings like the owls and skylarks she so admires.
Mina’s prose is poetic and her poetry is simple, almost bare, as it lays bare her feelings with startling depth. I cannot recommend this book too highly. Whether or not you have read Skellig, My Name is Mina is an exquisite story worth poring over, as Mina hovers between poetry and prose, and between the contrary impulses of seeking isolation and aching for friendship.