In this prequel to Skellig, Almond shifts his focus to Michael’s friendly, if odd, neighbor Mina. Mina’s being homeschooled, because, as she is quick to point out, “we feel that schools are cages.” But it isn’t really homeschooling that makes Mina different.Rather, it is her intelligence and creativity.It helps that her mother is a writer herself and very understanding of Mina’s precociousness.It doesn’t help that Mina’s father has died.
While Michael and his family appear in the novel, this story is wholly Mina’s.Written as Mina’s journal, the novel captures the feeling of discovery and connections made that can occur in a creative journal. Although the novel is written in a very different style from Skellig, it perfectly captures the nuances of family life, the importance of friendship, and the splendid wonder of the unknown.
Reviewed by Melendra