After reading A Monster Calls I can see why it has been adapted to film, not that I have send it yet as I wanted to read the book beforehand. The premise of the film is what peaked my interest initially but the book has definitely surpassed my expectations and I can say without doubt that this is going on my all time favorite book list.
The book is about a boy who is having a difficult time dealing with his mother’s illness. Cancer, a horrible beast in itself, seems to have taken its toll on Connor’s mother and despite trying to stay positive for Connor’s sake subconsciously he knows that his mum is dying. A coming of age story can be sad all on its own but throw in a dying single parent and it becomes heart wrenching.
One night as Connor is waking from a familiar nightmare he notices the Yew tree in the churchyard nearby has moved. He rubs his eyes and looks again and the tree is yet closer, and closer. Connor believes he must be still dreaming when the monster speaks to him. When he wakes in the morning his floor is covered with yew leaves but he explains it away as blown in the window. The yew monster visits Connor regularly with stories that don’t make sense to the boy. Three different tales and Connor seemingly doesn’t understand why. Why the monster calls, why he tells stories, why he is unafraid why he won’t help his mum and why the monster insists that Connor was the one to call him.
The time the monster shows is always the saw 12:07. There is a great significance to the time as the days pass and with each story we come to understand that people are not all good nor all bad. Sometimes people do bad things for honorable reasons. The monster’s stories are not designed to help Connor’s mother yet help him understand his own story. His nightmare. In the end his mother passes at 12:07, but his acceptance and willingness to let her go is the purpose of the monster’s call.
This is a dark coming of age story, that does not have a happy ending but an acceptable one. You hope unto the end that the monster is there to help Connor’s mother be saved. There is even a ray of false hope to spear your heart. But in the end Connor’s acceptance is what the story is truly about.
It is always sad to see or read about children suffering. A Monster Calls is that, but it is also very compelling. I applaud the author’s way of making you feel the emotional turmoil of the child yet delightful in the imagery that is portrayed. Yes its dark, but what should be scary, a monster, as intimidating as it is, is actually comforting.