A Monster Calls


By Patrick Ness

Published: 2011

AR level: 4.8

AR points: 5.0

Word count: 33,446

I suggest: 6th grade+

I have been remiss in not giving this book a posting earlier. A Monster Calls paints a dark and beautiful narrative of what it feels like for a child to watch a parent struggle with terminal illness.

The main character, Conor, is trying to come to terms with his mother’s prognosis, but this is not a book full of hospitals and depression. It is a book that deals with one of life’s most critical and inescapable parts with grace and dignity, providing a story within a story that does not let you go. Yet, despite the beauty of the writing, the book is paced well, making it hard not to read in one sitting.

This story certainly has its mature parts. I put 6th grade plus because AR has it listed as such, but I might even suggest 7th or 8th. I think a child’s own maturity level is probably the best deciding factor. I will say that this is a lovely story for adults as well; I read it not long after my own mom’s fight with breast cancer, which she thankfully won.

Here’s more from the publisher:

Patrick Ness’s Carnegie Medal–winning masterwork is poised to attract a discerning crossover audience.

The monster in Conor’s backyard is not the one he’s been expecting — the one from the nightmare he’s had every night since his mother started her treatments. This monster is ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

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