Young Adult: The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

Young Adult: The Minnow by Diana SweeneyThe Minnow by Diana Sweeney
on 28th May 2014
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback

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A girl called Tom
A flood that has taken the lives of her parents and sister.
A guy called Bill, who has let her down.
A grandmother who knows her secret.
A good friend called Jonah, and a little catfish called Sarah.
And the Minnow.

The Minnow is a beautiful, sad and unusual tale - of grief and loss and learning to find a new place i the world.

Tom's story will break your heart.

When a flood took the lives of half the town, Tom (also known as Holly the tom boy) lost her parents and sister. With the only family Tom had left being her elderly grandmother in a nursing home, Tom gets taken in by one of her father’s friends, Bill. It’s an odd situation and one which ends up with Tom having a baby which is half Bill’s growing inside of her. The Minnow.

The Minnow is a beautifully written novel but at times uncomfortable. Not in the way it was written but rather just what Tom has to go though. She doesn’t have the best support system in the world with only her best friend Jonah, his grandfather Jonathan and her grandmother to rely on. But Tom isn’t alone. She has the fish in the water to talk to – and her unborn baby. The idea of a 14-year-old being taken advantage of by a much older man and then forced to deal with the outcome is a fairly heavy one. But it was incredibly interesting to read how Tom dealt with it. The unborn baby (“The Minnow”) was a character in her own right and I thought it was an interesting concept having her so involved. Many of the characters in this book have passed on and no longer living. It may seem weird but it works. Tom is never truly alone as long as she has the ghosts from the past to keep her company.

I wanted to know a bit more of what was happening in the world apart from just the goings on inside Tom’s head. What was read and what were just her imaginings. What was the deal with Bill? Why hasn’t anyone told child services what’s going on? I had a dozen questions I desperately want answers to but I understand it isn’t that kind of book and part of the beauty of this book is that the only person who knows fact from fiction is Tom.

This book is unique although at times somewhat confusing. There were times when I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on and the ending is fairly ambiguous. But it is a book where you don’t need to be completely on top of the happenings to enjoy the journey. The imagery is gorgeous. There wasn’t a single moment where I did not believe I was getting to view this story though the eyes of a 14-year-old. It felt authentic and (despite the ghosts and talking fish) incredibly realistic.

The Minnow is a beautifully told story about a girl having to come to terms with the loss of one family and the gain of another. I have never read another book quite like and it and I feel it is quite deserving of winning the Text Prize.


Thanks to Text Publishing for a copy of this book to review


  1. I definitely agree with it being confusing 😛 there are times when that worked brilliantly, but times I think would have been better with even a LITTLE more clarity. That didn’t bother me so much, though, because the writing was so beautiful.

  2. I loved this one! I agree, though, at times it was just like, “So what’s actually happening?” It’s not really a book to read if you want a factual story, right?! 😉 I’ve heard several theories about the ending now, but to be honest, I don’t know what shape everyone was in when it ended. I’m still mildly worried about the Minnow! (Adorable, adorable name for a baby. x)

  3. Wow, this book seems to touch on a immensely heavy topic, and I’m so glad the author executed it properly. It’s hard to really develop an authentic voice for a 14 year old, especially in a situation like Tom’s where you are forced to grow up faster than expected. This sounds like a beautiful book, I will be keeping my eye out for it. Lovely review Kate, so glad you enjoyed it xx

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