Two of my closest friends told me to read this book
weeks months ago and one of them even let me borrow it so I’d have no excuse not to read it. It’s still no surprise that weeks months after my friend gave me the copy, I still didn’t touch it. I even carried it around with me with every intention of reading it, yet time always slipped away from me.
Last weekend, I finally sat down and read it.
In one sitting.
The one sitting part isn’t impressive, like it would be with a 600+ page fantasy epic. This book was only 200 pages, so that’s an easy feat. Why reading it in one sitting is important is because I literally tried to put it down multiple times and yet I couldn’t. I was curled up in bed, 100 pages in, and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. I was helping my family pack the next day, it was already 1am and I was tired.
Yet the pages kept turning; kept turning until I started swallowing sobs and sniffing quietly to not wake up the dog at the end of my bed; kept turning until it was 2 in the morning and the book was finished and I was just feeling so many emotions that the only thing I could think to do was curl into a ball and pass out.
It was a fantastic story. A heart-warming story. But it also was a hard story to read, because of how well it captured the reality of battling cancer.
The puking. The tiredness. The hair loss. The way it looks like a person is fading away right before your eyes and you are powerless to help. The chapped lips. The smiles that don’t reach their eyes. The tiptoeing around difficult topics and avoiding terrifying questions, dreading the answers.
Ness captured this all too well.
So it was hard for me to read. And my Mom is a survivor. I know this much: I’m not sure, if the monster showed up at my window during that time, if I could have been as strong as Conor. I would have wanted to. But if things turned out differently; if my reality had mirrored Conor’s, I’m not sure if I could have been as strong as he was. Especially if I was as young as he was, in a family that wasn’t entirely whole, but wasn’t entirely broken, either.
Yeah, this book was as good as my friends said it was. And the art, even more captivating. I’m glad I read it. If you’re looking for an inspiring, heart-wrenching (yet also heart-warming) story to spend a few hours cuddled up reading, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay (and inspired by the original idea of Siobhan Dowd) might be the book for you. Just bring some tissues.