Five-Star Friday is a periodically regular (say what?!) feature that I’m planning on running on Fridays (but not every Friday) in which I talk about (or verbally drool over) a book that I’ve read and ADORED (sometimes they’ll be recent releases and other times they might be older…my piles are tall and the bottoms are old). Yay! I always feel so happy and light and wonderful when I am beside myself with delight over a book, and I want to share the love with you all in the hopes that we can all get together and have an embarrassing, squeal-filled love-fest full of lots of high-pitched “Ohmygod, I KNOW!s” and chest-clutching sighs of contentedness. Huzzah!*
Well, HELLOOOOO, Five-Star Friday!! Been awhile, no? I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I hadn’t realized that I’d merely been waiting to read Patrick Ness’ devastatingly gorgeous A MONSTER CALLS first.
I have no idea, really, how to go about writing something about A MONSTER CALLS that is coherent and worthy of how much it made me hurt so good. I’ve been trying to write something down for hours now, and I feel like I’m struggling because it’s too soon, perhaps. Maybe I’ll start by saying that I’m usually pretty good at taking notes when I read (I have a relevant point here, I promise). Sometimes I hand write them, sometimes I type them in a document, sometimes I let auto-correct murder my thoughts by typing them into my iPod Touch. My reviews would be half-baked without them. But I was pretty much unable to write down anything worthwhile–aside from a few random Goodreads status posts–while reading this book. It didn’t even occur to me to stop reading and attempt to process anything. I was too engrossed, too sad, too heartbroken, and, near the end, too snotty-faced to see clearly or even breathe. This book is haunting me still with its beautiful, sad story and frightening images and the most endearing, loveable, heart-crushing main character who will SLAY ME for all time. A MONSTER CALLS was stunning and devastating and PERFECT.
Whatever my jumbled thoughts on A MONSTER CALLS, I know that I must tell you about Conor, possibly the most amazing kid EVER. The HEARTACHE I felt for him was so real, guys, and it was only tempered by his occasional snarky quip, which of course only made me love him even harder. Conor lives with his very sick mother, just the two of them, and he basically takes care of himself. He tries to go about his daily business believing that his mother will get better soon. But even though he tries to stay positive and put on a brave face, you can see the cracks showing, and his fear that his mother will die. Enter the monster. (Side note: whenever I looked at one of the illustrations here–which were perfectly dark and sad–it made me think of these books.)
You guys, I loved the whole premise of the monster. I loved the whole premise of EVERYTHING, but the monster was especially awesome. Not only because he had these great quotes about the wildness of stories, how they have this uncontrollable life, but because he treated Conor so differently from the other people around him. The monster yelled at Conor and was firm with him, while also being gentle and understanding. Conor’s teachers at school, and even his parents, treated him with almost too much care, and Conor struggled with others leaving him be and giving him special treatment. Seeing the monster and Conor develop their deep connection was impressive and it TOTALLY made me cry.
Speaking of crying, I literally SOBBED–like HEAVING, UGLY sobs–for most of the last few chapters of this book, and I would gladly subject myself to all of that intense emotion again because it was so beautifully crafted and profoundly simple: Sometimes, friends, we must learn to let go of things that matter to us most. Fact of life. If we don’t, we’ll always be paralyzed by the sads. *KNIFE IN THE HEART* This book was about death, of course, but also about truth, and that’s a huge, nasty one to swallow. While I was reading, I once pictured Jack Nicholson screaming, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!!” in my head, and it’s really not an inappropriate image, because A MONSTER CALLS is as much about Conor coming to grips with the truth of what his loss means to him as it is about his grief over his mother’s illness. I don’t even know if that makes sense at all. But I swear, when you read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about.
There’s not much more I can say about A MONSTER CALLS without sounding foolish or maudlin. Psh. I probably already sound that way. But I hope that you guys all find the time to read this book someday. It’s one of those books that burrows into your heart for a really long while because it’s so lovely and sad and important. *SIGH* I love this book FOREVER.
*So, I know that this feature is called “Five-Star Friday,” intimating that I have five-star ratings on this blog. Alas, I’m still figuring out whether or not to have a rating system here, BUT I do always diligently rate all the books I read on my Goodreads page. The five-star titles of which I speak here are taken from my “Favorites” shelf there.