Monday, March 24, 2014

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

From the title, it sounds like this could be horror, but it's not. A Monster Calls is a tearjerker, a full-tissue-box-at-your-side kind of book, but please, don't let that scare you away. This is a short, powerful, beautiful story that will appeal to those who find that fiction sometimes holds the deepest truths.

 Brian is thirteen, and his mum is undergoing chemo. His dad moved to America a while back with his new wife, and they have a new baby-- visits have been becoming rarer and rarer. So it's just Brian and his mum. But he can handle it. He thinks he can handle everything, despite the nightmare that lurks in his every sleeping hour and the pity-filled isolation that's sprung up around him at school.

Of course, he can't handle it, not at all. Not the grandmother who wants him to live with her. Not the father who leaves. Not the part of himself which knows things he doesn't want to know. In the end, it's his nightmare that will break him-- or save him.

A Monster Calls was conceived by Siobhan Dowd, who died of terminal cancer before it was completed, and written by Patrick Ness. It won the Carnegie Medal and the Greenaway Medal in 2012. The Newport Library keeps in it the Young Adult section, but this is a story for adults as well. It's also available as an ebook, which includes the beautiful illustration by Jim Kay, and as an audiobook, through Library2Go.

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