It’s been a long time since a book has reduced me to tears, but Ness’ powerful, and beautiful young adult books, A Monster Calls has done just that. Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd who passed before she could tell it herself, the story is a singular experience that is heartbreaking in its truth and stunningly emotional in its prose.
Young Conner is on the cusp of being a teenager, and is dealing with more than he should at his age. But that’s how life is. Every night he suffers from the same nightmare, over and over and the terrors that lurk within it bring him to a frightened wakefulness each and every time.
But one night, when a monster comes to his window, he is completely unafraid, because this is not the monster he is scared of.
With his mother ill, a grandmother he doesn’t get along with, and a father who is off living in America with a new family, Connor is alone, scared, angry, and now, being visited by a monster in the middle of the night.
From there, the reader is taken on a moving, gorgeously worded journey, that breaks the heart, and puts you through an experience that we all know, and can relate to. Ness has a fantastic way with words, and accompanied by the haunting illustrations by Jim Kay, this book encapsulates you in its tale.
You are spirited away from your own life, and plunged into Connor’s as he struggles at school with bullies, his empathising teachers, and the ominous overhanging Talk that he knows is coming, and fights with all his heart to deny what he already knows.
The monster, while conceivably a frightening creation, and he definitely comes from a world we don’t understand (or refuse to believe we do) is a brilliant character. But it is Connor the readers will most identify with, not only his own actions through the events the he is experiencing, but because of those events. No matter our age, all of us, at some point will have gone through this or something similar.
I couldn’t believe how sad and how beautiful this book was, and it has now not only found a place on my book shelf, but in my heart. That may be one of my most favourite books ever, and probably the finest story I read in 2016 (and I should have read it long ago).
I have never been so moved by a book in my life. I sat there, finishing the last pages, and I knew my eyes were wet with tears, and my throat was tight with emotion. It’s an insightful tale, it wrenches the heart, fills you with sorrow, and makes you ache with the beauty of the written word.
No matter your age, this one, to my thinking is a must. Yes the movie looks interesting, but some stories require the written word, and this is one of them.
Get your hands on a copy and get the tissues.