Christina Banach’s Minty, set in Fife, is the latest book to cross my desk. Coincidentally, the last three books I have had to read have all been about life after death, in one way or another.
Fourteen year old twins Minty and Jess have that special bond that twins have, so when Minty dies, they are both particularly devastated. The book is written from Minty’s point of view as she struggles to find a way to communicate with her living twin, while learning how things are after you die.
In this novel, you stay in a sort of limbo for as long as someone left alive clings on to you. Minty meets up with another teenager, Jack, who has beenÂ heldÂ in limbo, by his mother, for years and who provides some, though not all of the answers to her questions, leaving her to explore her new abilities to communicate and to travel with only the slightest hints. Thus, it takes a long time toÂ reach its resolution, as Jack is lonely and wants to keepÂ Minty in limbo for company.
As a former head teacher, Christina Banach has a great ear for the rhythm of teenage language and she manages to portray the despair, confusion, anger, indecision and all the shades of griefÂ that Minty, Jess and their parents have to go through as they come to terms with Minty’s loss in their different ways and through time. Schoolfriends who are sensitive, schoolfriends who are caring but want to move on play their parts too â€“ even the twins’ dogs, one of which drowned with Minty, have roles to play.
This isÂ certainly a change from the supernatural powers obligatory forÂ most fictional teenagersÂ these days and, as you would expect, the book is well written and the characters very alive (with the obvious exception). It’s a first novel from this formerÂ teacher so what next Ms Banach?