[PHOTO TO COME.. I lent this one out so quickly that I forgot to take a photo.. it was just that good guys]
Title: A Monster Calls
Author : Patrick Ness (author), Siobhan Dowd (conception)
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: 09/27/11
Dates Read: 02/17/18 – 02/18/18
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First of all… I do not know how I somehow dodged the knowledge of this book’s existence. I had never heard of this novel until about a week ago when a fellow ‘bookstagramer’ mailed it to me. This novel has almost 27,000 reviews on Goodreads and almost 150,000 ratings. HOW was I oblivious to this novel???
This novel is contemporary fiction, but has some very fantastical elements mixed in. Conor O’Malley is a thirteen year old who lives with his mother who is in the late-stages of cancer. The novel opens with Conor awaking in the middle of the night to his name being called.. by a giant monster that forms from the yew tree in his yard. The monster is there because Conor ‘called him’ (although to this Conor seems unaware) and plans to tell him three stories before Conor has to tell him one, which he labels as the truth.
Lets stop right there…
Many of you reading this will probably get this far in the synopsis and think “what?? a tree monster?? that sounds ridiculous!”… I promise you.. this novel has SO much symbolism, metaphorical representation, intense imagery… from the yew tree itself to the time/clocks. It is a contemporary novel with a flare of darkness. It reaches into the depths of Conor’s soul and exposes his emotions the stages in which he is dealing with his mother’s illness.
This novel ripped my heart out, stomped on it, and then left it for dead. I have not shed tears over a book in about.. 4 years. I cried through the last fourth of this book and then felt like I needed to recover. It was beautiful and emotional and brilliant.
I cannot even articulate how I feel about this book. I started this novel late Saturday night, and then finished it the following afternoon. When I finished, I sent a text to my sister immediately and told her to get over to my house to pick up this book right now so she could read it (and so we could then discuss it).
It won’t be easy… it’s going to hurt like hell… but you have to read this book if you have not already.
Note to Educators/Librarians: The only language that I saw in this novel was the word ‘hell’. There are some heavy topics–bullying, grief, death, and cancer. However, I think that this novel could raise some important and meaningful discussions with students. I would consider this title to be appropriate for middle grade and high school students.