A Monster Calls was the perfect book for an October book club. A little bit supernatural, a little bit strange, and—in the end—100 percent human. Even Lizzy gives it two paws up.
Basically, the book follows a boy, Connor, as he struggles with the reality of his mother’s cancer. Yes, there is a monster, a monster who comes to him at night (for the most part) and tells him stories with the caveat that the fourth and last story will be the boy’s story, and it will be his truth. I love the way that Patrick Ness describes stories:
“Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”
“Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth.”
As a writer, I understand that stories might start in your mind, but they can quickly grow beyond the scope of your control. You must stay true to your characters, and characters have a tendency to take on a life of their own. They wrest the tale from you, and the most you can do is dictate what they say. These stories contain pieces of a writer’s soul. No good story is ever completely separate from the creator.
I can’t tell you what Connor’s truth is; I can’t even tell you if his mother lives or dies. But I can tell you that stories can also heal. It healed Connor and helped him see a path forward when before there was only a chasm of darkness.
This book contains beautiful and lyrical prose and a simple message that really reaches down to your soul. Here’s a last message, a thought on the importance of actions, that I think everybody should hear