Monday, May 21, 2012

MMGM: A Monster Calls

My Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post is going to skirt around the meat of the book for one simple reason: I'm not sure if I'm ready to talk about it yet.

As some of you read in my post last week, my cancer took my father when I was 10. And I had this great idea to read Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls last week, during the time when my father was most on my mind.

News flash, people. That was a bad idea.

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness (from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd) with illustrations by Jim Kay
Date published: September, 2011 from Candlewick Press

From Goodreads:

"At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting — he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. 

The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined."

If you've read this book, you can understand why I'm at a loss for where to start.If you haven't read this book, you're probably wondering what the big deal is about it.

To be honest, this book has been on my radar for a while. First, Phoebe North reviewed it here. And soon I saw Sommer Leigh talk about it here. Then, Kiersten White talked about it here and Suzie F wrote about it here. And finally, Matt MacNish talked about it here at Project Mayhem.

By this time, I knew A Monster Calls was on my TBR pile but I was scared. I had just read a number of blogs written by respectable people who all acknowledged that this book was devastating, but also on many people's Best of the Best lists. I knew I wanted to read it, but I checked it out twice from my library before actually sitting down to open it up. I was afraid to read it.

I remember buying the last Harry Potter book the day it came out. I read each page slowly and forced myself to put it down after 50-60 pages so I wouldn't read it all in one sitting. I wasn't ready to get to the end.

I had the same experience with A Monster Calls, but for a different reason. I wasn't ready to get to the monster's end game where he forces Conor to tell the truth. I knew what the truth was because I felt it myself. But when the time comes, it is written with such power and emotional force that when I finished the story, I had to just sit and breathe.

This book is a tough read, not because the language is challenge, but because the topic is. In sticking with my regular MMGM question, "Do I think my nephews would read it?", I will say yes. It's scary, but if you have a MG reader who is dealing with a parent stricken by cancer and all the fear and anger that comes along with that diagnosis, chances are this book isn't any more difficult that that reader's life. Kids can handle this book. It reminds kids that they are not alone and validates their emotions.

It's tough to always be "fine" when you're really scared and confused. A Monster Calls isn't fine. It's real.


  1. I read another review that talked about the realistic intensity of this book.

  2. I haven't read this, but now I'm curious and I think I will. Thanks!

  3. I haven't read this yet either, but now i really want to. I'll probably hold off until i'm less stressed about things, though

  4. Thanks so much for the mention, TL. And I know exactly what you mean. This book was very hard to read, but it was hard in a good way, if that makes any sense.

  5. I now have this on my to-read list. It sounds like such a tough read but such a good one.

    My dad died of cancer when I was forty, just over two years ago. And it was devastating and heart-breakingly painful even as an adult.

  6. I've read it. I think I gave it five stars on Goodreads. Very wonderful, intense, sad, heartbreaking story. Really liked it. That said, I'm not sure I could have gotten through it if I'd lost a parent to cancer. Not with dry eyes anyway. ((hugs))

  7. I feel like I have to read it. Is it weird that I haven't heard of it before now?

  8. You'll notice in my post about it I totally skirted around actually talking about what the book was about. I found it impossible. Talking about the art was the only way I could access it without totally wounding myself.

  9. Wow - that's quite the review for "skirting around the issue." You captured the essence really well!

  10. I personally feel that this is one of the most important books ever written. I am sure it's very difficult for someone to read if they've lost a loved one (especially a parent) to cancer (or any form of death, really) but I think the message is too important to ignore and it is my hope that people will find comfort in that message. *hugs*


I love getting comments. They're as much fun as getting real snail mail. So please, chime in and tell me what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...