Book Review: A Monster Calls

April 2018; finished December 2018

This book is a young adult fiction book that I used for a small group on grief counseling. It took me so long to finish the book because the group decided that they were done processing their losses before we finished the book so I didn’t finish it at the time. I am not the type to read a book in advance of a small group; I read along with the students.  

This books follows a middle school-aged boy name Connor. His mother is terminally ill and he is having a hard time dealing with it both in and out of school. His troubles leader to the monster, the yew tree, coming to him in his dreams at 12:07am. The monster tells him three stories and promises that Connor will tell the fourth story.

Now we know that the real life monsters are the pedophiles and creepers out there but the metaphorical monsters that haunt our minds can be just as bad. When we cannot cope with the emotional turmoil we’re experiencing, we find ways to escape and for Connor, the monster was his coping.  I won’t go into detail about the book, but I will say that for children’s literature, it had some themes that adults can relate to. Dealing with illness, strained family relationships, avoidance, feeling invisible and/or pitied.

You would like this book if:

  • You have a child age (10-13) who is having a hard time coping with a family member being ill. There are many points that you can use to have conversations about how they feel and coming to grips with some truths, no matter how much they hurt.
  • You work with young people in a counseling profession and use bibliotherapy to help them address issues of grief and death.

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