A Monster Calls
In a week’s time it will be two years since my mother died of pancreatic cancer. I’m ambivalent about the anniversary. I feel it’s wrong to ignore it; and at the same time, wrong to turn it into some sort of sacred day.
Anyway, on facebook, the other day a friend recommended this book – A monster calls by Patrick Ness. I just downloaded it onto the kindle, and by chance, read it in a day on a couple of train rides [it's quite short].
I didn’t know it was the story of a nine year old boy (Conor) who’s divorced mother is dying of cancer. Nor did I know that although it was written by Patrick Ness, it was based on notes by Siobhan Dowd who died of breast cancer in 2007.
I also didn’t know that it’s officially a ‘children’s book’.
It is deeply moving without ever being sentimental or mawkish. If you have lost a close relative or friend to cancer it will bring a lot back to you – much that you might rather have forgotten (yes, I cried on the 8.23 into Waterloo) .
It manages to combine being very modern with a mythical/ magical plot. So Conor uses Skype to speak to his dad and plays around online at night, but the whole plot hinges around his relationship with a monster who forms from a yew tree in his garden.
As I’m no book reviewer, I’ll steer you in the direction of Frank Cottrell Boyce in the Guardian and Daniel Hahn in the Independent, if you want to know more (they both loved it). But really, all I’m saying, is you should read it.