This poetic little book is a gem. It is firmly rooted in the real world, deals with the sort of issues which pre-occupy young people, races the reader along in the story and is written in a fluid, lyrical style.
Minty lives in Dublin and her world is disintegrating around her. Her parents have separated acrimoniously and her father is determined to marry his new, much younger woman immediately. Her mother is exuding a brittle cheerfulness, determined that nothing is wrong, so Minty cannot discuss their problems with her. She needs a distraction from this unadulterated grimness and when it suddenly arrives in the shape of a mysterious and reclusive new pupil, Ned Buckley, she finds her world changing yet again, in unexpected and enormous ways.
Ned is a traveller and his horses are his life. He is passionate and skilled and recognises in Minty an ability to connect with his animals, something she has always wanted to do but been unable to as a result of her mother’s allergies. His home –Nettlebog – and his horses become a refuge for her – both emotional and physical – helping her to discover who she really is and what she wants from her life.
This is a gentle and sensitive book, shot through with fire and exploring crisis, identity and first love. It deals simply but movingly with the detritus which violent change leaves behind, both for children and adults. There are happy outcomes, but they are never neatly tied and so all the more credible. The rhythms of the prose reflect the beauty and the bitterness which the world engenders – an excellent read indeed.