Review: A Monster Calls

I read this book in a day.  And at the end of the day, I cried and cried and cried.

My husband owns A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (inspired by an idea of Siobhan Dowd), so I do by proxy.  This is the first Summer Reading book that Chris owns.  And I think it was a wonderful way to start.  He read it a few months back and raved about it, so it quickly went on my list.

A Monster Calls is a young adult book about a boy whose mother is battling cancer.  He has a recurring nightmare, but then begins having another, more interactive nightmare where he gets to talk to the monster because he’s not scared of it.  The recurring nightmare is so much scarier than the new monster.

The story is about him trying to figure out why the monster is visiting him, trying to figure out how to not be the “kid whose mom has cancer” at school, and trying to figure out how to have a relationship with his dad who moved to America (from Britain) years before that and is remarried.  All of that on top of trying to deal with his mom’s cancer treatments.  Oh yeah, and a sassy grandma.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just tell you how I feel about it.

A Monster Calls was raw and heartbreaking and devastating.  It deals with really hard themes in a really healthy and digestible way.  It was short, and the edition that I read had absolutely breathtaking artwork by Jim Kay.  I’m not an art person, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get over what Jim Kay did in this book.  Amazing.

This book hit incredibly close to home for me, as my mom passed away from cancer 6.5 years ago.  It brought up a lot of those raw grief feelings that people don’t like to talk about, and I’m so glad that this book exists.  Even 6.5 years later, I think it helped me heal just a little bit more.

So if you’ve grieved, if you love gorgeous or terrifying art, if you like tales with hard lessons (told by the monster itself), or if you’re looking for a short, easy read that will still touch you deeply, go pick up A Monster Calls and some tissues and have your phone nearby to call someone you love.


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I write. I read. I cook. I try to connect with people.

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