Conor O’Malley is having nightmares. Ever since his mother became sick with cancer, Conor has been struggling to keep his life going on as normal at home. His dad and stepmother live in another country, Conor and his grandmother don’t exactly get along, and the kids at school treat him differently. It all makes it very hard to be “normal” at home—or anywhere else. To tell anyone about the nightmares would prevent him from maintaining his illusion that everything is all right.
One night after the nightmare, a monster appears at his window—not the monster from his nightmare, but a different one. This monster wants something from Conor that he just cannot give. This monster wants the truth: Conor’s truth. And that truth is more frightening to Conor than anything else.
To say that A Monster Calls is a moving story about an adolescent boy facing a difficult time in his life would be like saying that Old Yeller is a story about a dog. Both are inadequate statements for conveying the depth of feeling these stories engender. Award-winning author Patrick Ness, working from an idea dreamed up by the late Siobhan Dowd, builds up Conor’s struggle in such a way that we as readers feel his pain and frustration in our very bones. This book is astonishing and heart-wrenching and miraculous all at once. Teen readers looking for the scary tale that the illustrations promise will be surprised at what can really be frightening in life—and it is not a monster calling your name in the middle of the night, as Conor O’Malley already knows.