Minty by Christina Banach #BookReview

About this book…

Fourteen-year-old twins Minty and Jess are inseparable. Maybe they bicker now and then, even crave a bit of space once in a while. But they have a connection. Unbreakable. Steadfast. Nothing can tear them apart. Until a family trip to the coast puts their bond in jeopardy. As Minty tries to rescue her dog from drowning she ends up fighting for her life. Will Minty survive? If she doesn’t, how will Jess cope without her? Only the stormy sea has the answer. Minty is a story of love, loss and coming to terms with consequences. It’s a spiritual tale that will linger in your mind long after you’ve read the final word.

My review…

As everyone knows I just love books about twins, it doesn’t seem to matter which genre either as the twin relationship just fascinates me both in real life and in fictional settings as well. This is the first young adult book I’ve read with twins but it’s probably a book that can be read by adults as well as stories about grief knows no age boundaries. Here in her debut novel Christina Banach gives us a story of love, loss and forgiveness affecting a family with twin 14 year old girls. And they have dogs!!!!

I think the scene at the beginning of the book was one that would bring terror to any parent or dog walker…a dog in trouble in the water. Now when you haven’t been in this situation, it’s very easy to judge! How many lives are lost each year when people attempt to rescue their dogs from a situation but get into difficulty? And the awful thing is that normally that person dies but their dog has somehow survived against the odds. So I found this a very realistic and scary start to how Minty dies and becomes lost and separated from her twin Jess. There was an essence of The Lovely Bones from this point onwards as Minty is stuck in an afterlife where she watches her family struggling to cope without her.

The relationship between Minty and Jess and also the one she strikes up with Jack, her afterlife friend who helps her to understand what’s happened to her, are really well developed which leads to a true depth of feeling to their interactions. It doesn’t matter that you know where the story has got to be heading as it’s Jess and Mintys journey to their acceptance of the inevitable that is at the core of this lovely book.

This is the sort of book my girls would have loved when they were teenagers and that I would have encouraged them to read. It’s a poignant and emotional read that ultimately has an uplifting message of hope in its plot. I can tell that the author has put a lot of herself and her beliefs into her work and it works all the better for that.

I received a review copy of this book from the author and have chosen to write a review after reading it.

Minty is out now and available to buy here from Amazon UK

About the author…

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Christina Banach is a former head teacher who lives in Scotland with her husband and their two rescue dogs. She loves walking; delicious food and wine; evenings at the theatre; exploring new places; surfing the Net; listening to music; and anything that makes her laugh. Plus she has a penchant for shoes and handbags. A voracious reader, she particularly enjoys children’s fiction (all those years buying for school libraries!) – which led her to writing. Christina is hard at work on her next novel.

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

About this book…

This is not a cautionary tale about too much – or the wrong kind – of fucking. This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think. I’m going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth.

Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond and bored at home. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki’s boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah finds herself befriending new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki. Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex, a Doc Marten and Kurt Cobain fan, who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her. The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything . . .

My review…

Whoa this made for some very uncomfortable reading! A very dark and sometimes distressing book that every mum of teenage girls should read- your teenagers antics won’t seem so bad after reading this! As one who struggled with those difficult teenage years both as a mum and as a teenage girl myself, I totally got where this book was coming from. Teenage girls can be so intense, especially when it comes to relationships and with the viciousness that it can create when things go wrong. It can lead to a fallout that affects all those they are close to…

This is the story of Hannah (Dex) and Lacey and how the coming together of their two personalities can be like mixing 2 chemicals-on their own they are safe but mixed together and they becomes explosive and unstable. Hannah is the good girl with a supportive family life while Lacey is the bad girl obsessed by Kurt Cobain. It is told from both girls point of view with the occasional insight into their families perspective as well.

This was an unsettling read, containing sexual scenes sometimes of a violent nature, that really got right inside the heads of two disturbed teenage girls. The themes of sexual awakening along with a side of religious conflict seemed well suited to its setting of small town suburbia in the nineties. It was hard hitting, gripping to read but in an uncomfortable way as you were preparing yourself for that moment you knew was coming, the explosive finale. You know from the start that there has been a suicide of a young man in the woods. As he was the boyfriend of the local “mean girl” Nikki, we also know there could be a connection especially as she appears to be a joint projection of hated for Lacey and Dex. When that moment came, even though I knew that something dark and disturbing was going to happen, it was was still a shock!

This book has taken me a few days to review. Once I finished it I felt a bit grubby as if I had been a voyeur, watching the girls from a distance while they carried out their relationship. It was probably my maternal instincts kicking in and I had that awful feeling of not being able to stop something that had been inevitable from the day that girls had first met. It was a weird feeling I have to admit and although I can’t say I loved the book, it inspired such a strong emotion in me that I have to admire that! The world of the teenage girl (with all its rush of hormones, social hierarchy and general nastiness at times!) is well explored here showing how the choices you make, when you come to that crossroads, can have a lasting affect for many years to come.

At times I found Girls on Fire a bit of a slow burner and sometimes I also had to flick back to see if Hannah or Lacey were narrating as they had such a similar voice but this just added to that feeling of two different perspectives becoming one. A true coming of age drama with a dark twist.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

Publication date 5th May 2016

Available to buy at Amazon