A Monster Calls was written by Patrick Ness and was inspired by an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd. I believe this story holds a power that can help many people. It follows a young boy named Conor O’Malley who must face a harsh truth; that his mother’s illness is not going away. His mother’s illness has impacted his entire world from his own relationship with his mother to how he is treated by teachers and other kids at school. A “monster” visits Conor to tell him three important stories, and in return Conor must tell the monster his own story. It is the journey of these stories that force Conor to re-evaluate his view of the world and ultimately face his own truth.
What I believe is so powerful about this book is not the “monster” or Conor’s gradual understanding, it isn’t even the power of stories (though I will always argue that stories have power, as this one does), this book holds a power to help those experiencing grief. Especially anyone who must face the gradual decline of someone they love. Anyone who is in a position where they feel powerless and can do nothing but hope. That limbo between sickness and death. The power of this book is how it helps those stuck in that limbo. I believe most people feel helpless and unsure of how to help others who are in that particular situation.
That may not make it seem like a particularly uplifting book. Any discussion of death is not particularly uplifting, but this book faces it with strength and makes the reader evaluate not only how they would react to such a situation but how others react when they must face it as well. This book is not just for anyone who has faced the grief of a loved one’s passing. It is for everyone because I believe we all have, in some way, experienced grief.
This book was adapted into a movie in 2016. I have not yet seen the movie, but I think I will watch it eventually. I hear it was well-adapted and it does have a great cast. Liam Neeson voices the monster. I usually prefer the book to the movie in most cases. However, I think this story would do well on screen accompanied by that always emotion-inducing medium of music.
I am recommending this book because I believe it has the power to heal beyond just those who are grieving. It has the power to help us understand and better accept ourselves as human beings. We all have emotions and sometimes they get the better of us. This story reassures us that sometimes that is okay. Sometimes that is best. That it doesn’t make us lesser people because we cannot fully comprehend our own feelings.
My hope is, yet again, that we can all go into this new year with a goal to better understand and accept ourselves as well as others.