Book Review: The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

The Minnow - Diana Sweeney

A copy of this novel was provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review.


The Minnow is one of the most unique novels that I have had the pleasure of reading. I’m so glad that Text sent this book to me, because there is a chance I may have never discovered The Minnow by myself. There is no question in my mind why The Minnow won the Text Prize.


To me, The Minnow felt like Tom’s memoir. The tense was all over the place, and the descriptions were all but non-existent, however this added so much reality to the novel. I found myself not caring, and creating my own images from the little tidbits I was provided by Tom.


I don’t really know how to categorise The Minnow, because even though the time, setting and story are very contemporary-based, there are themes that are very reminiscent of something more. For instance, Tom speaks to the dead, and to animals. It’s not made entirely clear if this is all in Tom’s imagination, or whether these

conversations are actually taking place, but I found the whole thing absolutely beautiful. I loved the interactions between her and these non-human characters, especially her grandfather, and the sassy turtle in the hospital. They are one of the most unique qualities of The Minnow, and definitely endeared me to the novel as a whole.


Tom is an incredibly deep and complex character. She is one of those characters that feels very three dimensional; very real, and I loved reading about her life. She’s not perfect, but she’s funny and thoughtful and so very strong. The way she looks at life is a completely Tom way – completely her, and utterly wonderful to read about. There wasn’t one moment that I did not enjoy reading about her world through her eyes.


The cast of characters in The Minnow is as colourful as the cover (which has shiny bits on it, by the way – SHINY BITS), and each was completely individual from the next. I couldn’t pick a favourite because they all had traits and characteristics which I liked. We had Jonah who was the most supportive friend Tom could have ever had, we had James Wo who I can only think of in both first and last name now, we had Tom’s grandmother (who was alive) and grandfather (who was dead) – we had a beautiful menagerie of wonderful characters who tug at your heartstrings.


I would have loved a little bit more information about two aspects of the novel, though. The first is Bill. I truly have no idea who he is, and how he was allowed to live with a minor (Tom) for so long. Were they related in any way? Because if not, I find it hard to believe there was no one else Tom could have lived with. The second were these snippets where Tom had a tube in her throat and couldn’t talk. I don’t recall being given any context to these snippets and I am left wondering what they were exactly. Were they from when she was a baby? I would have liked to know.


Other than those two minor qualms, I enjoyed almost every aspect of The Minnow. It was a wonderful story of love, loss, becoming an adult, and learning to live.


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