Idgiepug’s #CBR4 Review #29: My Name is Mina by David Almond
I liked David Almond’s Skellig, but I didn’t LOVE it the way some people do, and the same goes for My Name is Mina. Mina is a pre-teen who struggles to fit in with her classmates and teachers, especially after the untimely death of her father. After a particularly disastrous, though creative, standardized test essay, Mina’s mother decides to pull her out of school and homeschool her. Mina begins keeping a journal, which forms the novel. Mina is an interesting narrator, and most of us can identify with parts of her story. She’s smart, creative, and fascinated by the natural world, but she struggles when it comes to interacting with people. As she keeps her diary and writes about the things that have happened to her and the relationships she’s had in her life, she begins to realize that perhaps she was not so isolated and mistreated as she once thought.
Almond does a nice job of capturing that most troubling and difficult part of a person’s life. Mina is on the cusp of adulthood but still trying to figure out how to move through the adult world, how to interact with people, and how to take all her personality and carve out a place in the world for herself. At times, though, the book seemed almost manufactured for use in classrooms. It felt that Almond sat down with the idea of writing a book that teachers would select for their middle-school classes. Mina even includes helpful “activities” for her readers to try that feel custom-made for schools. Maybe I’m being a bit paranoid here and reading too much into the book, and, to be fair, I really did enjoy the story. My Name is Mina is a good “tweener” novel, certainly better than some other more-famous books geared for that age group.