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Book Club: A Monster Calls, pages 66-85

hospital waiting room

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club!  We are reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, after an idea inspired by Siobhan Dowd.  Catch up on pages 1-22, pages 23-43, and pages 44-65.

Let’s get started!


Commentary by Megan:

Lily is trying to be a friend to Conor and is even willing to forgive Conor about getting her in trouble at school. He doesn’t accept her kindness, and it is obvious he doesn’t forgive her for telling friends at school about his mother’s illness which has led to him becoming isolated and “invisible.” The bullying continues as Conor is punched by Harry in the schoolyard. This time, Lily doesn’t intervene. Harry continues to be threatening to Conor but Miss Kwan interrupts. She continues to show kindness and perhaps pity to Conor; however, it appears that Conor doesn’t want kindness or pity. He wants everything to be normal and for people to treat him normal.

Commentary by Krystina:

This chapter focuses on a few situations where there is either a lack of or clear understanding from those involved.

The first situation surrounds Lily is trying to be understanding of Conor’s behavior from the day before at school, when he lied and allowed her to get into trouble. Lily makes mention of her mum saying people need to “make allowances” for Conor, because of what was going on with his mum. Conor blames Lily and her mum for the way he is being treated by everyone, because Lily and her mum were the ones who spread the news about his mum being sick. The next situation occurs at school and involves, Conor and the bullies; Harry, Anton, and Sully. After Conor is punched in the stomach by Harry, Sully tries to turn Conor around by his shoulder. Harry stops this and says, there is an understanding between himself and Conor, that Harry is the only to touch Conor. Conor replied by nodding and internally agreed that there, indeed, was an understanding between the two of them. The final situation includes Miss Kwan and Conor. Miss Kwan explains to Conor that she understands that though Harry may be charming, she knows he is still a bully. Miss Kwan, also wants Conor to know she understands the reason he may be keeping quiet, is due to his mum’s situation. She tells Conor if he needs anything, her door is always open, but though Conor can hear the “care”, he didn’t want to accept it because he didn’t feel deserving of it.

“Little Talk”

Commentary by Megan:

Conor’s grandmother tells him he will be staying with her at her house as his mom is in a lot of pain and going to be admitted to the hospital. She is in pain because the treatment isn’t working. He also finds out his father is coming to visit from America. He is going to leave his “new” family in America to come visit. Conor asks his grandmother why but doesn’t get an answer. He goes to see his mom, but she is resting in his bed instead of her own. She reassures Conor the doctors will make her pain better while she is in the hospital. She also tells him treatment is not working, but she is sure to provide reassurance that the doctors will just “adjust” her treatment again- just like last time. He tells her she can tell him if that’s not true, which may be a sign he is more open to the reality of the situation. This appears to be a first for him. She tries to comfort him by telling him to watch the yew tree for her while she is gone so it is there when she gets back. This is her way of showing she will come back home from the hospital, just like last time.

Commentary by Krystina:

Conor finds out his mum is going to the hospital because she’s still in pain. He learns that he will be staying with his grandmother for a few days, which he is not happy about, and that his father is coming to visit from America, which he is extremely confused by. Conor’s mum finally talks to him about her current condition. She mentions that the treatment isn’t working, but assures him that there are plenty of other things that the doctors will try, and that he is not to worry. Conor, not entirely convinced, responds by saying “if there’s more, you can tell me”. At which point, his mum does not reply but hugs him tight and then makes mention of the yew tree.

“Grandma’s House”

Commentary by Megan:

The monster hasn’t showed up for five days since being at grandmother’s house. His grandmother doesn’t even have a real yard- and no room for a yew tree. Conor finds himself alone in his grandmother’s house and waiting on his father to arrive. And maybe waiting on the monster to show up? Conor goes to the pristine sitting room and reads a book. No monster. Finally, his father arrives and Conor seems to have a genuine, wide smile for the first time in quite awhile.

Commentary by Krystina:

Conor notes that the “monster” has not visited him in five days, since being at his grandma’s house. His grandmother keeps referring to the room Conor is staying in, as “his” room. I think this is her way of trying to prepare Conor for what is to come. However, Conor hates this room more than anything else in her house. At this point, I feel Conor is still resisting accepting his mum’s current situation and the possible consequences that may result. As Conor waits for his father to arrive, he checks under his grandmother’s rug, for any signs in the floor of the “monster”. The doorbell rings and with much excitement, Conor opens the door. The chapter ends with Conor hearing his father say “Hey, Son” and Conor responding with a smile bigger than it had been in a year.


Join in next Monday for comments and discussion on the next 20 pages of the book!

Thanks for joining us for pages 66-85 (“Understanding,” “Little Talk,” and “Grandma’s House”) of  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness!  Join in next Monday for the next chapters of the book!

We will talk about a few chapters each Monday until the book is done.  If Monday happens to be a holiday, then the post will publish on Tuesday.  Once we finish the book, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss.  We’ll also have a video chat book club discussion at the end!  Join in, in the comments every week!  Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us!

Excited about the young adult cancer book club?  Have any suggestions for future reads?  Let us know!