Reading A Monster Calls

Just finished Patrick Ness and Jim Kay’s A Monster Calls. What a tale! So good that when Matthew came round , I straight away got him reading it! He’s taken it away with him now.

Picture from the book, The Guardian

The circumstances of the book’s making are interesting in themselves. As Patrick Ness says in The Guardian:

My editor, Denise Johnstone-Burt, had commissioned a book from Siobhan Dowd, based on a idea Siobhan had talked with her about. I’ve seen emails from Siobhan talking about how she couldn’t wait to get properly started on the notes and early prose she’d written. But very sadly, she died from breast cancer before she could finish it. Denise didn’t want the idea to disappear, though. I wasn’t perhaps the most obvious choice at the time, considering that Siobhan’s books tended towards the realistic and mine tended to the fantastical, but what I hope we have in common is a kind of wanting the emotional truth for our readers, of wanting teenagers to be taken seriously, as complex beings. And that can be true no matter where your story is set.

 It is a tale of a boy, Conor,  with a mother who is fighting a long battle against life-threatening illness. The monster that calls is in the form of the yew tree from the graveyard, but a yew tree that walks and talks. It tells Conor that it has three stories, and that it will want Conor’s story, the truth, his truth afterwards. There are things Conor doesn’t want to tell. There are the nightmares that he always has. But the tree drags it out of him, makes him tell the truth he didn’t tell even to himself, makes him realise the lie that went with it.

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