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Thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley’s mother is suffering from a terminal illness, and it is taking a toll on the boy, leaving him with persistent nightmares. In this recurring dream, a menacing monster attempts to drag his mother into a deep and dark abyss, while Conor is left struggling to hold onto her hands. Initially, we are unaware of the dream’s significance, but as the story progresses, we eventually discover its true meaning.
Every time Conor has the nightmare, he wakes up precisely seven minutes after midnight. Thus, when he one night awakens to see a real monster standing outside his bedroom window, he would be naturally expected to be horrified. However, this isn’t the monster Conor has been expecting, so he’s rather unimpressed.
At night, Conor is visited by a monster—a huge, ancient creature made of yew tree branches and roots, with skin of leaves and slices of bark for teeth. But Conor isn’t scared, because the monster in his nightmares is far more terrifying. The yew tree monster demands something from Conor: the truth about his worst nightmare. Conor must confront his deepest fears and find the courage to face the truth. Only then can he find the strength to battle the monster and save himself.
The Monster tells Conor three stories on three separate nights. Though they may seem like fairy tales, the good guys often turn out to be the bad guys and vice versa. But there’s a sinister twist: when the Monster tells the stories, Conor plays them out in his own life. He only realizes what he’s done when the Monster has disappeared. One story leads Conor to wreck his Grandma’s living room, and another causes him to beat a schoolmate so badly the kid has to go to the hospital with broken bones and teeth. Despite his destructive behavior, nobody punishes him because they’re all walking on eggshells around the kid whose Mom has cancer. It’s easier just to pretend he doesn’t exist.
Speaking of cancer, the last-ditch chemotherapy that the doctors tried on Conor’s mother has been unsuccessful. Taxol, the drug derived from yew trees, is a powerful agent in the battle against the disease, but it has been ineffective in treating Conor’s mother. Despite his hope that the monster had come to heal his mother, Conor knows that there is no hope.
Conor’s denial is challenged when a monster appears in his bedroom one night. As Conor faces his fear, he discovers that the monster is there to help him confront the truth about his mother’s illness and impending death. By speaking to Conor honestly, the monster helps him come to terms with the reality of his mother’s situation and accept the inevitability of her passing. In the end, Conor is able to cope with his mother’s death, knowing that she is in a better place.
Our favorite anthropomorphicThe Yew Tree transforms Conor’s family backyard into an eerie world of his nightmares. Just like in his dreams, Conor sees his mother standing close to the edge of a cliff, only to be grabbed by a monstrous creature. With all his might, Conor runs towards her and attempts to save her, but the pit beast’s strength is too much for him. He is forced to watch helplessly as his mother disappears into the deep pit below. His heart is full of guilt and shame for failing to save her, and he knows he deserves to be punished for his inability.
But the monster’s all, hHumans are incredibly complex creatures, capable of both good and bad. We see this in literature time and time again, with characters who are both virtuous and flawed. The moral of the story is this: sometimes, when caring for someone exhausts us, it’s alright to let go. In fact, it is necessary.
In one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in literature, the Monster creates a nest for Conor to rest in. Just in time, Conor is awoken and rushes to the hospital to be by his mother’s side. Though the book ends before she passes away, we know it happens at 12:07. The bittersweet moment when Conor holds his mother’s hand for the last time is incredibly moving.
Frequently asked questions
What is the plot of A Monster Calls?
The book is about a young boy named Conor who is struggling to cope with his mother’s terminal illness. One night a monster appears at his window and tells him three stories that help him to understand his situation better and learn to accept it.
Who is the author of A Monster Calls?
The author of A Monster Calls is Patrick Ness.
What age group is A Monster Calls suitable for?
A Monster Calls is suitable for readers aged 10 and above.
Does A Monster Calls have a movie version?
Yes, A Monster Calls was released as a movie in 2016.
Is A Monster Calls a fantasy book?
Yes, A Monster Calls is a fantasy book.