Tuesday, December 6, 2016
A Monster Calls in the Classroom
I picked up a copy of "A Monster Calls" by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd to read to my son on the train during our daily commute to school without giving the plot of the book much thought. It features a monster visiting a young boy, and I was pretty sure that would make for compelling reading on packed subway cars. I did not pay too much attention to the fact that the the boy's mother is slowly dying from cancer throughout the story.
And I didn't count on my son identifying with the protagonist quite so thoroughly and deeply. As my son's not actively dying mother, I found this a little bit disturbing, although I recognized that it was perhaps unintentionally (on my part anyway) therapeutic, and certainly provided a compelling distraction during trying subway rides. "A Monster Calls" is not just about loss so much as overwhelming anger and guilt in the face of loss, and this is perhaps what made it so relevant to my son. Although my son did helpfully point out to me that my brief and totally non life threatening health issues earlier this year made him feel like he has a lot in common with the kid in the story. Oh dear.
We just discovered that this book that I had initially thought was maybe a little obscure is a huge bestseller (#1 in "Teen and Young Adult Monster Fiction" on Amazon...did you know that was a category?) and has been made into a movie supposedly opening later this year.
My son is very enthusiastic about seeing the movie.
Having managed to read long weepy maternal death scenes out loud to a subway car full of strangers without overtly crying, I am cautiously optimistic about taking him to see it.
(The kid in the classroom on the napkin is more my son than Conor O'Malley, if that needs to be pointed out)