The book that broke and mended my heart

Dear reader,

A dramatic title I know, but what can I say – I am a bit of a drama queen!

So a quick background to this post – I've been struggling to write for the past week or so. My life recently has been a bit topsy-turvy, with a few family issues that clouded over my thoughts. It was the only thing I could really think of, and a topic I'm not sure I have the full ability to write about and do justice.

Since then I've been wracking my brain about what to write, then late last night I was thinking of books (as per usual). Particularly ones that have been important at various times in my life and there it was – the blog post I wanted to write.

The book is ‘A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness (in case you didn't know from the pictures) and I could honestly rant and rave about this book and over-analyse it a million times. I shall spare you the pain and try my best to explain why it means so much to me and gives me feelings I can't even really put into words in as few words as possible.

Firstly, if you haven't read any Patrick Ness books I definitely would recommend. His ‘Chaos Walking' series is AMAZING and it is being adapted into a film *squeal* starring Tom Holland *SQUEAL* and Daisy Ridley *SQUEALLLL* . Fangirl moment out of the way - he is a brilliant author so please do give him a read.

Another author involved in this incredible book is Siobhan Dowd. The idea of 'A Monster Calls' is hers and is bred from her own personal experience with suffering from cancer, which sadly she passed away from before she could complete it.

Knowing the background of Siobhan Dowd and the struggles in her own life at the time of her writing makes the book even more devastating and horrendously beautiful, something I'm sure you will understand if you have read it.

‘A Monster Calls' was the third book I ever reviewed on my old blog, and ‘A Swift Pure Cry', (another stunning novel by Siobhan Dowd) was the first, so both hold a bit of a special meaning for me in that sense.

What really made the book for me was not just the utterly wonderful writing and wretchedly heart-warming storyline (sorry for all the oxymorons, but honestly you will get why I'm doing it if you've read it) that makes it so enjoyable and painful to read, but it is the illustrations by Jim Kay that make it the masterpiece it is. It is rare for me to say that, but honestly, they give it a touch of eerie, otherworldly realistic beauty that just sets the book in a league of its own.

A few of you may know the book from its film adaptation. I admit with hands raised in surrender that I have not watched it. I watched the trailer when it came out and (I hope some of you kind of know the feeling I'm trying to describe) was so overwhelmed by the feelings I had about the story that I decided I wasn't sure if my heart could handle watching it. Maybe some of you guys can encourage me to give it a go!

It is a short book – only 215 words long. The beauty of it is it can be as easy a read as you want it to be. If you take it for face value it is still a wonderful book, but if you let the book do its magic, then you will find that there are so many literary techniques and double meanings and ways of interpreting it that it might take you a while to digest. It is something you can associate with your own life and experiences with grief or love or terminal illness. It puts you in the mind of a child; a mind full of imagination, pain and loss of innocence that is so brutally raw that you form a connection with the protagonist and the monster. It feels like he is tapping on your bedroom window, and that you are a child once more. As you turn the pages, your fingers are left with a light dusting of magic.

The first line: "The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do." Sends a shiver down my spine; just at those simple two sentences. Those two sentences are something that we all recognise and I think strikes a chord in all of us, and I hope you feel it too.

If you are human and you have hurt, or you have healed, or both...this book is for you.


Hebe x

All illustrations are by Jim Kay, photographed by me from my purchased copy of 'A Monster Calls'

No comments