Mina

Kim Sagwa Bruce Ful­ton (Trans­la­tor) Ju-chan Ful­ton (Trans­la­tor)

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction / Nonfiction -

Two Lines Press (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $14.95 (280pp), 978-1-931883-74-0

Kim Sagwa’s psy­cho­log­i­cal and ob­ser­vant Mina fol­lows two young women try­ing to nav­i­gate their so­ci­ety.

In­tro­verted, pas­sive, and in­tro­spec­tive, Mina mourns a child­hood friend in the best way she knows how: by lock­ing her­self in a closet and drown­ing her thoughts with mu­sic. Con­versely, Crys­tal is loud, strange, and dis­turbed; she hates the world and every­one in it. These “best friends” con­tin­u­ally com­pete with each other.

Right away, Crys­tal’s jeal­ousy to­ward Mina is pal­pa­ble. She wants all of Mina’s at­ten­tion but can­not be­gin to un­der­stand Mina’s le­git­i­mate emo­tions. Her be­hav­ior is odd, though it could be in­no­cent enough at first; she jok­ingly chokes Mina in one of the open­ing scenes. As the story pro­gresses, her be­hav­ior be­comes more ir­ra­tional. Mina’s pas­sive­ness bal­ances Crys­tal’s er­ratic be­hav­ior.

Most of the novel’s scenes are just of the two girls hang­ing out, talk­ing. Their di­a­logue dances be­tween jest and se­ri­ous­ness—though a joke may sud­denly turn into ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior. Dis­jointed and at times nonsensical, their con­ver­sa­tions and tones—par­tic­u­larly jux­ta­pos­ing how they speak to each other to how they speak to oth­ers—re­sult in deep de­pic­tions of who they are.

Sub­tle de­tails, from sly looks to the use of spe­cific words, be­come clues as to why Crys­tal sud­denly goes off of the deep end. Sagwa does an ex­cel­lent job of por­tray­ing men­tal ill­ness with­out ex­ag­ger­a­tion or drama; it is an ac­cu­rate, un­set­tling por­trait. Mina shows how seem­ingly unim­por­tant is­sues in young adults’ lives be­come all-en­com­pass­ing and de­struc­tive, and how so­cial ex­pec­ta­tions put im­mense pres­sure on young peo­ple to dress, look, and act a cer­tain way.

A deeply dis­qui­et­ing ac­count of men­tal ill­ness, Mina is a novel about the tiny hints that, in ret­ro­spect, be­come the big­gest clues to a per­son’s un­rav­el­ing. KATIE ASHER

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