Review: The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

Goodreads synopsis:

Tom survived a devastating flood that claimed the lives of her sister and parents. Now she lives with Bill in his old shed by the lake. But it’s time to move out—Tom is pregnant with Bill’s baby.

Jonah lets her move in with him. Mrs Peck gives her the Fishmaster Super Series tackle box. Nana is full of gentle good advice and useful sayings.

And in her longing for what is lost, Tom talks to fish: Oscar the carp in the pet shop, little Sarah catfish who might be her sister, an unhelpful turtle in a tank at the maternity ward. And the minnow.

The Minnow is a moving and powerful coming of age story with a whimsical element that belies the heartbreaking truth of grief and loss. Tom is a character you will never forget.  


I received a copy of this book through edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

This is not the type of book that can be put in one category. This novel intertwines several themes to create something that is beautiful, unique, and heartbreaking.

Tom is a fourteen year old girl who has lost her entire family in a flood. She becomes pregnant with an older man, Bill’s, baby. The way the author writes about the circumstance leaves the reader wondering if the conception was consensual or not. Either way, it was wrong. And now Tom is carrying Bill’s child. Tom soon moves in with her best friend Jonah, who also lost his parents in the flood, and he proves to be the anchor that Tom needs in her life. With Tom’ baby, The Minnow, growing inside of her, Tom starts to have conversations with The Minnow. She also talks to fish and her dead relatives, making this story pull the reader down into the mind of a young girl who has suffered terrible tragedy. Whether or not Tom was hallucinating or really talking to the dead, I can’t say.

The story jumps around form the present to the past. At first, I was a bit confused with this writing style. As I got deeper into the story, it didn’t bother me as much, but I still think the story should have had a more clear timeline. Throughout Tom’s pregnancy, she spends time with her Nana, who is a wonderful character with a spectacular spirit. Their relationship is definitely my favorite. The relationship between Tom and Bill throughout the story is the most confusing. I think Tom really cared for Bill, but she was obviously too young to comprehend -in the beginning- what happened between them.

This book still has me in a daze.

Diana Sweeney wrote a powerful story that examines how one young girl dealt with severely traumatizing events in her life. Tom is the type of character that a reader can gather strength from.

The ending was a bit abrupt for my taste, but I still thought it was a strong, emotional ending.

Bravo, Mrs. Sweeney! I look forward to reading more of your work!


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